Darcy Sime of Alden shares this photo of a snow bunting.
Darcy Sime of Alden shares this photo of a snow bunting.
You have made it through another year. Nice going.

I am not always able to stay awake until midnight on New Year's Eve. I recall the thrill of being allowed to stay up as late as I wanted. Age has changed my desires.

I went on one of those small merry-go-rounds in the park and spun around a few times. Those were my New Year's revolutions.

The fortune cookie I opened last year said it would be a good year. It was. I put Goodyear tires on my car.

At the outset of a new year, it is customary to wish people good things.

I wish you pie.

Lots of pie.

Echoes From Loafers' Club

"Could you tell me how to get to the highway?"

"I have no idea."

"Don't you live here?"

"I do, but I wouldn't be living here if I knew how to get to the highway."

Driving by the Bruces

I have two wonderful neighbors - both named Bruce - who live across the road from each other. Whenever I pass their driveways, thoughts occur to me, such as: The biggest fool does not recognize his achievement.

Ask Al

"How can I avoid cutting myself when slicing vegetables?"

Have someone else hold the vegetables.

"Which side of a duck has the most feathers?"

The outside.

"How do you pack for a trip?"

I carry my packed suitcase around the outside of the house five times. Then I remove everything I do not need.

Memories of Mom

Canada geese flew over in a messy V-formation. The birds were either tired or illiterate. One goose was strikingly small. It might have been a cackling goose. I thought of Dr. Seuss and one of his books, "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish," that contains the lines, "We see them come. We see them go. Some are fast. And some are slow. Some are high. And some are low. Not one of them is like another. Don't ask us why. Go ask your mother."

I like ants. I studied them from my get-go. Back when I thought antlers were young ants, my mother did not think I would become an entomologist. She thought I would become an antomologist.

Customer comments

Alan Searle of Toledo, Ore., wrote, "My daughter's question, 'If you buy a bag of cotton balls, are you supposed to throw the first one away?'"

Rodney Hunt of Albert Lea said, "Eat chocolate in moderation. No more than a pound a day."

Anne McArthur of Morpeth, Ontario, wrote, "When you tell a child to act his age, you are saying 'act my age.' He's already acting his age."

Jo Golbuff of Albert Lea said her friend was adopted by a stray cat. He named it, "Not My Cat."

Dennis Prescher of New Richland likes cookies that break instead of bend. He explained, "If it bends, it's cake."

Rod and Ruth Searle of Waseca said a friend spent all day in a deer stand without seeing any deer. After shooting hours ended, he climbed down from the stand and trudged wearily back to his truck. There by his truck stood a deer.

I received a Christmas card from Ric McArthur of Morpeth, Ontario. It featured colorful birds. The text read, "We three kings of avian are, migrant birds who travel afar. Fluff and feather, snowy weather, pooping on yonder car."

Did you know?

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands found that "Huh" is a universal word.

Every year since 1947 the city of Oslo has given a Norway spruce as a Christmas tree to New York, London, Edinburgh and Washington, D.C., in gratitude for United States and United Kingdom help during World War II.

Nature notes

"Is it a centipede or a millipede in my basement?"

If you cannot catch it, it is probably a centipede. They are as fast as the four-legged chickens that are supposed to be delicious, but nobody knows for sure because they have not been able to catch one. The centipede has one pair of legs per body segment, the millipede has two pairs for each segment. The centipede has a flattened look, while the millipede is more rounded. Millipedes feed on decomposing organic matter and centipedes prey upon insects and spiders.

If a crow knocks at your door

I love a good mystery. Each day is one.

There was too much traffic on the road. Last-minute Christmas shoppers had one more gift to get. Even the crows were picking up a few last-minute Christmas gifts from the highway. Carrion is the gift of choice for considerate crows.

Lou Jean Ingham of Hayward worked at a bakery/bread outlet store until it closed. She told me when she drove into the store each morning, a crow followed her car into the parking lot. The crow became extremely vocal and pecked at the front door of the establishment until Lou Jean tossed it a piece of stale bread. The crow grabbed the bread with its beak. If a pothole near the store held water, the crow dunked the bread in the water before eating it.

Mourning doves

When mourning doves take flight, air vibrates the tips of their flight feathers, which cause whistling sounds. The rush of air creates wind instruments. However, it is the dove's wings that moves through the air rather than the air forced through an instrument.

Many birds produce sounds when they fly. Wing sounds give the hummingbird its name. Owls have special feathers that silence their wings while hunting. A theory suggests that a dove's wing whistle communicates danger.

To test this theory, researchers recorded the wing whistles of doves during normal takeoff and during a panicked launch. When they played the normal takeoff sounds to a group of doves and other birds at a feeder, none of the birds paid much attention. But when they played sounds of panicked wing whistles, not only did the doves take flight, but the other birds did also. This showed that birds are able to detect subtle differences between normal and panicked dove wing whistles.

This from the DNR

At just over 20 acres, Clinton Falls Dwarf Trout Lily SNA (Scientific and Natural Area) is one of the smaller SNAs in Minnesota. What it lacks in size it makes up for in ideal habitat for a rare wildflower. Dwarf trout lilies naturally occur in only three counties in southeastern Minnesota, and nowhere else on earth. They are therefore designated as federally endangered. This site contains one of the most significant populations of this Minnesota endemic, and unlike other sites, this population seems to be thriving.

The significance of this site has not gone unnoticed by DNR botanists. They have been documenting the extent of the dwarf trout lily population using GPS technology. The newly acquired information will be used to help design a monitoring protocol to track the status of this population over time. When it comes to the long-term conservation of dwarf trout lilies at the site it will take botanists, land managers and volunteers working in concert to preserve this wildflower.

The site benefits from the dedication of stewards Jerry and Karen Ibberson from Ellendale. They have given presentations about the site to local groups, removed trash, surveyed the dwarf trout lilies and removed invasive dame's rocket and buckthorn. Jerry took DNR chainsaw training to accelerate buckthorn removal.

Thanks for stopping by

"Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder." - E.B. White

"Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest." - Sri Chinmoy

Meeting adjourned

Norman Wesley Brooks wrote, "Christmas is forever, not for just one day, for loving, sharing, giving are not to put away like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf. The good you do for others is good you do yourself. Peace on Earth, good will to men, kind thoughts and words of cheer, are things we should use often and not just once a year."

DO GOOD.

Happy New Year.

© Al Batt 2014