I peered through the fog, searching a snag tree for a pileated or anything affiliated. Juncos flashed white on their tails in flight and a downy woodpecker made a sharp "pick" call.

A crow voiced what sounded like, "Carl." Maybe it was his name. I don't know, but it seems to me that there are crows that think the sun comes up just to hear them caw.

One of this crow's corvid (the family of birds that includes crows, jays, ravens and magpies) companions was on the road feeding on roadkill. It cawed in reply to the other crow or perhaps it was giving its compliments to the Chevy for the carrion.

Though they eat roadkill, crows generally cannot tear open the skin of dead animals by themselves. Like turkey vultures, they wait for something else to open the carcass or for decomposition to soften it sufficiently.

Crows are always up to something.

Henry Ward Beecher wrote, "If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows."

Crows are omnivorous, eating almost anything.

A friend told me that he had to "eat crow" at his workplace. That meant that he was forced to admit a mistake that was likely humiliating. The term's origin has been lost, although it might be that it involved a War of 1812 encounter in which a British officer made an American soldier eat part of a crow he had shot in British territory.

There is a reason McDonald's doesn't offer crow. The meat is unsavory, unless you're an owl.

Echoes from Loafers' Club

"What did your brother say when you told him that you wrecked his car?"

"Should I leave out the profanity?"

"Yes, please."

"Then he didn't say anything."

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: I recalled the words of Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton, "Let us cry for the spilt milk, by all means, if by doing so we learn how to avoid spilling any more. Let us cry for the spilt milk, and remember how, and where, and why, we spilt it. Much wisdom is learnt through tears, but none by forgetting our lessons."

I've learned

1. That six out of seven dwarfs are not Happy.

2. That someone who doesn't believe in horses is a neightheist.

3. Operators are sitting by.

News from Hartland

Loafer's Shoe Store sells its insoles to the devil.

Instant Karma Cafe serves the fast food you deserve.

Custer's Last Tan opens for business in Two Bits.

Moses Olson leads his family to the dessert.

City erects "One way or another" road signs.

The long goodbye

I attended Katherine Knudson's wedding reception. Kat married a nice fellow named Noah. It was his reception, too, but probably more hers than his.

It was a fine jollification. We should have more like it. There was no deafening music played, which made it possible to visit with friends and relatives.

When the time to leave came, folks staggered about like goodbye zombies. Ona Meyer of Hartland, who left a half-dozen times, said that Minnesota goodbyes take forever. Much of my family lives in Iowa. The goodbyes are stretched there, too. We are people who are good at nearly making it out the door.

W. Clement Stone said, "Big doors swing on little hinges." They sometimes refuse to swing at all due to small words or recollections.

The Beatles sang, "You say goodbye, and I say hello." They were right. We tend to stand near the door, not wanting to leave, but knowing we must. Door goodbyes do go on.

Happy New Year

Ric McArthur of Morpeth, Ontario, writes, "In our throw-away, use-it-once society, we discard years for no apparent reason. Good thing they don't go to the landfill."

The 12 months by George Ellis

"Snowy, flowy, blowy, showery, flowery, bowery, hoppy, croppy, droppy, weezy, sneezy, freezy."

Did you know?

This from The Wall Street Journal, "In June, the Mayo Clinic published a comprehensive study of every known hand-washing study done since 1970. The authors concluded that drying skin is essential to staving off bacteria and that paper towels are superior to driers: They're more efficient, they don't spatter germs, they won't dry out hands, and most people prefer them."

A study in BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) that was based on the mortality records of 9,889 athletes who competed in the Olympics between 1896 and 1936 showed that engaging in cycling and rowing (high cardiovascular intensity) had no added survival benefit compared with playing golf or cricket (low cardiovascular intensity).

The small pink bump on the inside corner of the eye is called the caruncula. It contains sweat and oil glands that produce rheum, also known as eye crispies, eye snot or tear rocks.

The web between the thumb and forefinger is called the purlicue. Some claim that pinching it makes a headache go away.

No catnap

I hadn't been home long. I got to bed late and my body was still operating on a time zone three hours away. I woke because I had that feeling that someone was looking at me. I opened one eye to see a cat staring at me. It could have been staring because it wanted another scratch-off ticket, but I think it was concerned for my wellbeing. It stared at me because that's how cats perform CPR.

I put food in the cats' inbox - their food dish. I fill the inbox. The cats fill their outbox (litter box).

Q and A

"Do butterfly houses work?" Not to house butterflies. They are decorative and are more likely to be inhabited by spiders and wasps than butterflies.

"Can birds predict the weather?" Apparently, most birds can sense small changes in barometric pressure. If the activity at bird feeders becomes more intense than normal, a storm may be approaching. During storms, a feeder becomes a reliable source of food. Birds are not dependent on feeders, but the foods offered there might make it easier for birds to weather a storm. Besides, feeding them allows us the opportunity to see lovely creatures such as the American tree sparrow.

"How can I tell if it's a centipede or a millipede that I see in my basement?" If you can't catch it, it's probably a centipede. They are very fast. They remind me of the four-legged chickens that are supposed to be delicious, but nobody knows for sure because they haven't 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 generally has a flattened look, while the millipede is typically more rounded. Millipedes feed on decomposing organic matter and centipedes prey upon insects and spiders. Centipede derives from the Latin centi meaning, "hundred" and pedis meaning, "foot."

Nature lessons

Squash vine borers overwinter as pupae in the soil. They emerge as moths in late June and July. This coincides with the bloom of the common roadside plant chicory.

In winter, when the spruce grouse eats more food to maintain its mass and energy balance, its gizzard grows by about 75 percent, and other sections of the digestive tract increase in length by about 40 percent.

A friend told me that it is possible to hypnotize a dragonfly by waving a finger in a circle in front of its head. His theory is that because the dragonfly has so many eyes, trying to follow a finger makes it dizzy. Once it reaches a proper level of dizziness, it will even step onto the finger. I can't wait to try charming a dragonfly next year.

Thanks for stopping by

"It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day to day basis." - Margaret Bonnano

"If you can't be happy now with what you have and who you are, you will not be happy when you get what you think you want. If you don't know how to fully enjoy $500, you won't enjoy $5,000 or $500,000. If you can't fully enjoy taking a walk around the block with your mate, then you won't enjoy going to Hawaii or Paris. I'm not saying that having more money or more recreation won't make your life easier. It will. But it won't make you happier because it can't." - Barbara DeAngelis

Meeting adjourned

Mark Twain said, "I can live for two months on a good compliment." Make being kind a New Year's resolution.

DO GOOD. Happy New Year.

©Al Batt 2012