A ruby-crowned kinglet.  AL BATT/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
A ruby-crowned kinglet. AL BATT/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
I watched a gray squirrel pick up an acorn. It moved to a place it thought to be acceptable for storage. It dug a hole in the ground to fit the nut. It stopped its endeavors several times to look around, searching for other squirrels that might pirate the acorn. Seeing none, it placed the acorn in the hole, covered it with dirt and padded it shut with its paws. It took another peek for spying squirrels before leaving the scene.

Someone was watching. It wasn't a squirrel, but it was another eater of acorns. A blue jay flew in, pecked the acorn free and flew away with the acorn in its bill.

Echoes From the Loafers' Club Meeting

"Someone stole the chicken eggs I had for sale."

"Do you know who stole them?"

"I'm not sure, but I suspect they were poachers."

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 it weren't for keychains, we'd have to lose our keys one at a time.

The headlines from Hartland

Late musician leaves his regards to Broadway.

The Eat Around It Cafe declares edible silverware to be a failed experiment.

Grounds For Divorce Coffee Shop closes. People saw the trouble brewing.

Scenes from a marriage

I have difficulty telling black socks from navy blue socks. I need a good natural light to do so.

I used to have a pair of red socks. I could tell them from black or navy blue socks.

One day, I wore an Hawaiian-type shirt, only brighter and gaudier. It was a cheap shirt. My clothes match my wallet.

I wanted my wife to know that I wasn't "colorbland."

A peregrination

I was on a flight to Seattle.

A young girl, her mother and her grandmother were taking their seats just in front of me.

The girl said, "I'll sit in the middle. I know both of you want to sit by me."

In Haines, Alaska

I talked with a nice woman who had taken a tumble on the ice. That was bad luck. The good news was that she'd fallen in front of the medical clinic. The bad news was that she fractured her arm. The good news was that the arm in a sling made for the perfect support for her camera as she snapped photos of bald eagles.

The muse

I was in an area never once considered for a Monopoly board. There, I encountered a fellow with a beard covering several states. He was wearing a hat that read "I'm perfect, you adjust," pink Crocs and a T-shirt showing food stains from his youth that tried to cover the words, "I'm not lazy, I'm cat-like."

He told me, "The only thing that works in this country is gravity."

He groused a bit about his daughter who was buying pajamas while wearing pajamas. He said that one day she'd been talking on her cellphone while eating an ice cream cone. She licked the phone by mistake.

He'd found relief from his migraines by placing his daughter's purring cat next to his head. He added that he lived at the Wrinkle Ranch, his name for a retirement community, and then said, "I like reading what you write. Where do you get your ideas?"

I didn't tell him.


At the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, "I checked on our plant near Bergen. It's difficult to get much work out of the Norwegians. They have a government pension that kicks in at age 62 that makes them all millionaires."

In a cellphone store, "It's like getting a free phone that you have to pay for."

Myself saying to a friend, "We stopped at a large store. I won't say the name, but it began with 'W' and ended with 'almart.'"

Customer comments

Ric McArthur of Morpeth, Ontario, wrote, "The new shoot-and-release program doesn't seem to be working for duck hunters."

Tom Duvendack of Swanton, Ohio, told me that someone had asked him, "Why would anyone name his kid Duvendack?"

Eric Durbin of Waterville, Ohio, told me that he couldn't go on a field trip because of a DFO - a Dreaded Family Obligation.

A yawning pellet

My wife was volunteering at the American Bald Eagle Foundation in Haines, Alaska.

She was working with Dylan, an eastern screech owl. Dylan, although fierce in his own right, is tiny and cute. Dylan appeared to be yawning. He wasn't. What Dylan was doing was coughing up a pellet.

After an owl eats prey items such as small rodents, birds and bugs; it cannot digest all the fur, bones, teeth, feathers and insect shells. These parts are formed into a pellet and spit out. If you dissect an owl pellet, you'll find what has been on the raptor's menu.

The rough-legged hawk

The rough-legged hawk breeds in the Arctic tundra and taiga regions. In the fall, rough-legged hawks leave their breeding grounds and migrate to wintering sites in southern Canada and northern U.S.

As a boy, I called them "Christmas hawks." They typically select open habitats similar to those of their breeding grounds. Expansive agricultural lands where food is plentiful makes a perfect place.

The name "rough-legged" refers to the hawk's feathered legs. The ferruginous hawk and the golden eagle also have legs feathered all the way to the toes.

Nature lessons

Each of America's deer eats about 3,000 pounds of vegetation per year. A white-tailed deer can run up to 40 miles per hour. They will eat anything from soybeans to ladybugs.

Watching for wolverines

Andrew Manske, a wildlife filmmaker from Grand Prairie, Alberta, wanted to film a wolverine in high definition. He set up a plywood blind in northern Alberta, where the winter temperature can hit 40 below.

In 2011, Manske spent 28 straight days in the blind. There could be no fire and no urination outside (he stored his urine in sealed bottles) as these things might spook the elusive wolverine.

He saw one wolverine, but it was after dark and resulted in a grainy video. He tried again in 2012 with no luck. It's not easy to see one of the animals.

A wolverine could have a range of as much as 195 square miles.

In 2013, he spent 25 days in a blind and was able to get usable footage of a wolverine.

Nature notes

Darwyn Olson of Hartland asks if red-tailed hawks migrate. Many red-tailed hawks do migrate south for the winter, but some individuals, especially older birds with established territories, may stay. More birds migrate during especially snowy winters as hawks have greater difficulty locating rodents under snow.


An angelic form flew overhead and landed in a tree.

A single crow perched on a branch. Was it an attempted murder?

Earlier, I'd heard The Byrds singing on the radio, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted."

A beautiful song borrowed heavily from Pete Seeger who borrowed a great extent from the Bible.

Each season brings welcomed wonderment. One question brings another.

The big black bird lingered beyond my understanding. I listened to the crow making odd sounds. I had no idea what was meant by its calls.

Alice in Wonderland said, "Curiouser and curiouser!" She meant that things were getting stranger. I'm curiouser and curiouser, with a different meaning. I'm becoming more and more curious about the world around me. I live curiously. I'm eager to learn more. I want to know what a lone crow is saying.

Thanks for stopping by

"I want to hang a map of the world in my house. Then I'm going to put pins into all the locations that I've traveled to. But first, I'm going to have to travel to the top two corners of the map so it won't fall down." - Mitch Hedberg

"God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars." - Martin Luther

Meeting adjourned

"Make a gift of your life and lift all mankind by being kind, considerate, forgiving and compassionate at all times, in all places and under all conditions, with everyone as well as yourself. This is the greatest gift anyone can give." - David R. Hawkins


© Al Batt 2013