Dean Young shared this photo, showing what happens when cardinals attack.
Dean Young shared this photo, showing what happens when cardinals attack.
It was a snowy and windy morning. Approximately 50 redpolls rose from the feeders in my yard, flew high into the sky, fought the wind for a moment, and then went where the wind took them.

A chickadee called its own name and then whistled "Spring's here."

The redpolls returned.

Echoes from Loafers' Club

"I went to Walla, Wash., last week."

"Don't you mean Walla Walla?"

"No, I didn't have time to go to both Wallas."

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: It all started years ago when I read "The Lord of the Rings." Since then, I've been Tolkien in my sleep.

Over here

Hartland is near the hem of the state. Folks take the road less graveled to get here. The smallest of towns has endless corners. A neighbor winters in Florida. He's a snowbird who drove there. He called to tell me that Florida has a snow removal plan. There's no snow or removal, but they have a plan. He's kept the right turn signal on the entire time he has been in The Sunshine State. He does that in case he spots a buffet.

Things found in a nose

I caught my 3-year-old grandson picking his nose. His finger was up his olfactory organ because he was pointing at his brain. He's a smart little guy.

I used my hankie to wipe his nose. He had a bat in the cave. A nose goblin. Once I'd freed a trophy-sized booger, I stole his schnozzola.

"I have your nose," I cackled grandfatherly. The nose was my thumb protruding between bent forefinger and middle finger. I have all my grandchildren's noses.

Later, I stole a snowman's nose. It's a jewel. One carrot.

I paused in my snoot-stealing endeavors to ponder upon our winter. I had time for that because of Parkinson's Law that says, "Work expands to fill the time available for its completion." My records show that 90 percent of my work takes 10 percent of my time and the other 10 percent of my work takes 90 percent of my time.

I thought about the lack of snowmen that I'd seen this year. I miss observing the artistry and imagination they present. I questioned parents of young children and they assured me that there's a plethora of snowmen, but I don't see them.

I was cheering myself up by considering all the snow I hadn't shoveled, when the phone rang. The phone always rings when a fellow is getting some work done. The caller was interested in hiring me to lead tours. He said one excursion would be during the "off-season." I live in Minnesota, where the weather is always off-season.

The knot was tied

My wife and I were married at the Congregational Church in New Richland. The Rev. Fick officiated at our wedding. When he said, "If anyone can show just cause why these two should not be joined together in holy matrimony, let them speak now or forever hold their peace," 46 of my bride's relatives raised their hands.

He ignored them. I liked him.

He told me about his early years of wedded bliss. A devoted pipe smoker, he had a number of pipes in his smoking rotation. Like all good pipe smokers, he had just the right amounts of caked ash in each bowl to enhance his puffing pleasure. He returned home one day to find his bride smiling like the cat that ate the canary. She'd cleaned his collection of pipes by using a knife to scrape the bowls and gave each pipe a good scrubbing in soapy water.

I asked the pastor if he'd growled.

"No," he replied, "I appreciated her efforts."

Did you know?

George Washington had dentures made from hippopotamus tusks that were designed to fit over his one remaining tooth.

Eighty-two percent of Americans, 35 and older, consider themselves positive thinkers, according to a Gallup survey.

Johnson is the most common surname in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. It's second in the United States behind Smith. Williams is third.


I have always wanted to visit Nameless, Texas. I'm not sure if I would like to go to Uncertain, Texas.

I was certain I was outside a Texas city that had a name when I found small funnel-shaped dimples in the sand. I grabbed a twig and gently stirred it around one of the impressions as a friend from Texas chanted, "Doodlebug, doodlebug, come out of your hole. Your house is on fire, and your children will burn."

A little beastie appeared, a larval antlion. Made many times larger, it would be a perfect creature for a sci-fi movie. It looks like a tiny turtle with large, extended jaws. Mark Twain included one in his novel "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," "Doodlebug, doodlebug, tell me what I want to know!"

The burrowing of a doodlebug created the dimple in the sand. It sat buried at the bottom of the imprint. If an ant or other small insect walked by, it would slip on the sand particles and tumble into the abyss. There, it would fall prey to the jaws of a hungry doodlebug.


Robins bathe in ponds, mud puddles, small streams, melted snow and birdbaths - often waiting in line as if they're picking up prescriptions in a busy drugstore. Robins raise their feathers to allow water to reach skin. Robins have hollow bones, making them too light to submerge, so they splash about.

Robins use their bills to preen, which removes dirt and aligns feathers. The robin applies oil obtained from a gland near its tail to its feathers, which leaves them soft and pliable.

It takes many short baths rather than one long soak because saturated feathers make flying difficult. Bathing frees the skin of parasites. Clean feathers are good insulation. I can hear a mother robin telling a youngster, "Clean feathers are warm feathers."

This from the BBRP

On April 13, the Bluebird Recovery Program Expo will take place at the Middle School in Northfield. We'll have Mike Jeresek and Keith Radel on bluebird topics, the great humor of Al Batt, Jim Gilbert's Nature Notes (from WCCO Radio), Kelly Applegate on purple martins, Leif Knecht from Knecht's Nurseries & Landscaping will cover plants for wildlife and bluebirds and the Raptor Center of Minnesota will present live birds. There will be a catered hot lunch, vendors of bluebirder gear, display tables of nature items, a silent auction and a raffle. Please visit or contact Jenean Mortenson at for more information.

Nature lessons

The brighter red a cardinal male is, the higher his reproductive success will be and the more effective he'll be at holding preferred territories. The cardinal's color is related to what he's been eating. When a female sees a bright red male, it's a signal to her that he is healthy and has a good territory.

Thanks for stopping by

"There comes a time in the affairs of man when he must take the bull by the tail and face the situation." - W.C. Fields

"Just smiling goes a long way toward making you feel better about life. And when you feel better about life, your life is better." - Art Linkletter

"This dirty puddle used to be pure snow. I walk by it with respect." - Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

Meeting adjourned

Be kind.


©Al Batt 2013