Jerry Peichel of Fairfax stands inside a naturally occurring fairy ring of mushrooms. Jerry is no elf, but folklore says this is a place where elves dance.  AL BATT/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
Jerry Peichel of Fairfax stands inside a naturally occurring fairy ring of mushrooms. Jerry is no elf, but folklore says this is a place where elves dance. AL BATT/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
One day, I was slaving away in my yard, fighting a never-ending battle against plants that had forgotten their proper places, when a tiny bird landed on my hand.
It had the unkempt look of a feathered Einstein. It spoke, which might not be an odd thing for a tiny bird that looked like Einstein to do, but I plan on researching that by reading at least half the Wikipedia entry covering it.
I will say that the tiny bird sounded wise. I held knuckles against my teeth as the tiny bird told me that all of nature loved me and meant me no harm. That changed my life.
The next day, I went looking for my new friend. I wanted to thank the tiny bird for enlightening me.
I searched all day and was bitten by 41,273 mosquitoes, some of them more than once. That tiny bird was a big liar.
Not a duck dynasty
The annual Minnesota DNR spring waterfowl survey estimated the mallard breeding population at 257,000, 12 percent below last year’s estimate of 293,000, 1 percent below the 10-year average, and 13 percent above the long-term average.
The blue-winged teal population is 102,000 this year compared with 144,000 in 2013 and 53 percent below the long-term average of 215,000.
The combined populations of ring-necked ducks, wood ducks, gadwalls, northern shovelers, canvasbacks and redheads was 116,000, 53 percent lower than last year and 35 percent below the long-term average.
The Canada goose population was estimated at 244,000 (250,000 last year), not including an estimated 17,500 breeding Canada geese in the metro area.
Echoes from Loafers’ Club
"We’ve been married 33 years."
"It’s nice you’ve remembered."
"It’s easy to remember. We got married the same year I bought the new toaster."
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: if only I knew then what I know now but can’t remember.
The news from Hartland
Woman finds snake on porch and cautiously burns her house down.
Ferris Bueller fired from yet another job for missing too many days of work.
Pumpkin Patch repairs leaking squash.
New to these parts
I was searching for the right Allen wrench when I came across a bag of small parts. They’d been placed nicely into a plastic bag. There was no labeling or instruction booklet with them. I’m sure I put the items into the bag, but why? And what were they for? Spare parts or leftovers?
Perhaps I’d put the odd parts into the bag so that one day, I’d find the bag and wonder what the parts were for.
I keep myself entertained.
“They’re great!”
As Tony the Tiger said, "They’re great!"
I stopped briefly at a reunion recently. I wanted to express my appreciation to those in attendance for their good work and fine company. The reunion was for those who had worked at Tony’s, a gas station in New Richland.
It was much more than a gas station, but that’s what we called them before they became convenience stores. Tony Arnfelt’s establishment offered gas, repairs, snacks, pop, air for tires, windshield cleaning, advice and wisdom. It was shelter in a storm and gave life depth.
Tony hired good people and I’m glad that Tony’s was a part of my life, even if my role was merely that of a loiterer.
It was a great idea for a reunion. I think a school bus reunion would be a good idea, too. Many of us rode with a flock of folks over the years.
A peregrination
I turned off Interstate 94 and visited New Salem, N.D., to see Salem Sue, the world’s largest Holstein. The fiberglass cow is 38 feet high and 50 feet long.
Another turn off I-94 brought me to Jamestown’s Dakota Thunder, the world’s largest buffalo monument at 26-feet-tall, 46-feet-long and weighing 60 tons. The sculptor’s name was Elmer Peterson. A name meant for the job.
Near Devils Lake, I stopped at Sullys Hill National Game Preserve. Sullys Hill is one of 560 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service specifically for wildlife.
Sullys Hill is named for Gen. Alfred Sully. President Theodore Roosevelt established Sullys Hill as a national park in 1904. In 1914, it was designated as a preserve to conserve bison and elk.
A monument claimed Rugby was the geographical center of North America. There is some argument about that assertion, but while I was there, it seemed to be true.
Work took me to the Netherlands. I arrived late at a hotel. I didn’t have the time to get much sleep. The next morning, as I waited for a ride to the Amsterdam airport, I found myself in a Holland daze.
Goofy grocery shopping
I was doing the best I could. I moved about the supermarket in fits and starts. I’d had a piece of paper itemizing the groceries I needed to buy. It refused to present itself. Lost, I suppose. I wandered listlessly about the store.
Did you know?
Folklore says that equestrian statues contain codes whereby the rider's fate could be determined by how many hooves the horse has raised. One hoof raised, the rider was wounded in battle; two raised hooves, death in battle; all four hooves on the ground, the rider survived all battles unharmed. This isn’t true.
A Bureau of Labor Statistics survey showed the average American sleeps 8 hours and 45 minutes daily.
People once blamed bad dreams on the night-hag. This demon caused nightmares by inducing feelings of suffocation. Strategies for keeping the night-hag at bay included putting bread blessed by clergy under a pillow or hanging flint chips (hag-stones) on the bedposts.
Nature notes
Julie Bronson of Glenville asked if the bobolink is called a skunkbird. The distinctive appearance of this species has given rise to colorful nicknames — skunkbird, butterbird, skunk blackbird, and ricebird (it has a fondness for wild rice patches). The male’s breeding plumage is unique in North America. It’s the only bird with a black front and white back.
Brian Wesley of Wells asked if I’d address the decline in the numbers of meadowlarks. We have two species here. Western meadowlark breeding populations have declined throughout the U.S. and Canada at about 1 percent per year since 1966 according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Declines are due to conversion of grassland breeding and wintering habitat to housing and agricultural uses.
Other factors affecting western meadowlark populations include pesticide use, habitat degradation by invasive plant species and fire suppression that alters native grasslands.
Eastern meadowlarks are declining, too. The North American Breeding Bird Survey shows a severe rangewide decline estimated at between 2.9 and 14.8 percent per year from 1966 to 2010. Losses are due to disappearing grassland habitat.
Prairie is scarce in the eastern U.S. and the farms that once hosted meadowlarks — small, farms with pastureland and grassy fields — are being replaced by larger, row-cropping agricultural operations or development.
Early mowing, overgrazing by livestock, and the use of pesticides harm nesting meadowlarks. I still find meadowlarks in grasslands and where cattle or horses are pastured.
Meeting adjourned
Engage the world in a conspiracy of kindness.
Thanks for stopping by
"To him that watches, everything is revealed." — Italian Proverb
"Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success." — Swami Sivananda
© Al Batt 2014