An orchard oriole is perched atop a feeder.
An orchard oriole is perched atop a feeder.
A skunk waddled near some friends and me while we were up to some mischief-making. "Walk for your lives!" I yelled and we all strolled to safety.

Later, I picked a few flowers and searched green spaces for four-leaf clovers. A four-leaf clover is supposed to bring good luck to the finder. I pressed some of the flowers inside the pages of heavy books. I didn't do that with a four-leaf clover. I didn't want to press my luck.

Aging flowers

I led a bird walk at Banning State Park in June. We looked at flowers along the trail. The trilliums were in abundance. Trillions of trillies demanded our attention. Some of the flowers were beginning to fade.

One in my group, Mary Ellen Vetter of Minneapolis, called them senior flowers.

Echoes from Loafers' Club

"I bought a book on feng shui."

"Are you making use of it?"

"Not really. I haven't figured out where to put the book."

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: when and why did we start having derechos?

I've learned

Reading Tolkien is Hobbit-forming.

No candle burns longer than another. They all burn shorter.

Parents bare infants and bore teenagers.

The news from Hartland

Anderson's Awnings is a shady business.

Man, who had not eaten meat in 20 years, hit by Veggie's Meats truck.

Vandals rearrange lawn ornaments during night.

The Third Base Bar & Grill, "Your last stop before home," offers the Heroic Lunch. No sitting allowed. You stand up and take it.

Man wanders aimlessly across the U.S. to call attention to his ADHD.

Have you ever wondered?

How are NASCAR drivers ever get caught for speeding?

If a man thinks he's being followed, is he suffering from paranoia or egomania?

Why so many cartoon characters wear shirts, but no pants?

She swears it's true

Nancy Reinhard of Stow, Ohio, said that some of her family members are staunch fans of the Ohio State Buckeyes football team. Ohio State has an intense rivalry with Michigan. So much so, that a list was discovered that had been made by an 8-year old boy in the family. The list was of the words that he should never use. Included in amongst the cuss words was the word "Michigan."

Not counting crows

A drive can be long. Winter's reluctant departure leads to not only better driving conditions, but to more things to see.

We watch farmers flex their tractors. We identify birds on the wing.

We used to count horses on drives. We'd each get one side of the car. Whoever counted the most horses won.

Now my wife and I count hawks instead of horses. We both win.

Lending an ear

I was birding in the Carrington, N.D., area when I watched marbled godwits fly over. Another birder, Fred Chancey of Eugene, Ore., told me that a friend of his called them garbled modwits. A Spoonerism at its best.

I was assisting on a birding trip during the Potholes and Prairies Birding Festival. As might be expected, we stopped in a prairie/pothole area. It was windy and devoid of traffic other than the two buses I was involved with.

After exiting the bus, I stopped to listen.

"What are we listening for?" asked a 9-year old member of the group.

"Sedge wrens," I replied. Their songs sound something like, "Cha cha cha chachachachacha."

A second question came quickly. "Then why aren't we hearing any?"

Customer comments

Dave Clausen of Amery, Wis. wrote about my remarks as to the ineffectiveness of deer whistles on vehicles, "I must differ with your view on deer whistles. Years ago I had a run of bad luck and hit four deer in less than six months. My insurance agent gave me a set of deer whistles. Being rather busy that day, I just threw them behind the seat of my vet truck. When I traded trucks I didn't have time to install them on the new truck so I put them behind the seat of that truck. That process was repeated each time I traded for maybe five or six trucks. In all that time I never hit another deer. I don't know how well they perform when placed on the bumper but tossed behind the seat, they are 100 percent effective."

Rick McArthur of Morpeth, Ontario, wrote, "If you have a difficult task, give it to a lazy man. He will find an easier way to do it."

Andy Johansen of Old Hickory, Tenn., told me that the person coming into a restroom always has the right-of-way over a person leaving the facility.

Stephen Ingraham of Kennebunk, Maine, responded to my comments on the multi-colored plastic sheets that some folks used to stick to the TV screens of old black-and-whites to give the impression of color, "My father bought one of those and wouldn't let anyone remove it from the TV screen for a year."

Dave Reinhard of Stow, Ohio, said that a UCC Church not far from his home has a sign in front of it reading, "We are open between Easter and Christmas."

Mike Cotter of Albert Lea, a lifelong farmer and a storyteller par excellence, said that he knew he was getting older when he sat down in a tractor seat, ready to go to work, and his son told him not to touch any of the controls.

Bill Thompson, III, of Whipple, Ohio, has a dog named Chet Baker, after the late jazz trumpeter. This year, his family has taken to calling the canine a "tick taxi." Chet picks the ticks up and delivers them indoors.

Nature notes

"A flicker is hammering on the chimney cap of our house. Why is it doing that and how can I make it stop?"

The flicker is using the cap as a sounding board to attract a female and to proclaim territory. If you could dull the sound by covering the cap with duct tape or cardboard, the flicker will stop. Flickers have a sticky tongue that extends 2 inches beyond their bill that helps them feed on ants. Nestling flickers produce a unique buzzing sound, an ability that lasts until they are nearly full-feathered. The nestlings make the sound whenever something approaches the nest cavity. Researchers speculate that the noise, which resembles a disturbed swarm of bees, might discourage squirrels and other nest predators.

Thanks for stopping by

"A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing." - George Bernard Shaw

"It is interesting and encouraging to see how the whole world is waking up to our interest in birds. I'm so glad of it - it makes one hope something may be done to preserve them." - Olive Thorne Miller

Meeting adjourned

William Wordsworth wrote, "The best portion of a good man's life: his little, nameless unremembered acts of kindness and love."


© Al Batt 2013