Darcy Sime, of Alden, MN, shared this photo of one of the many horned larks that can be found along the rural roadways.
Darcy Sime, of Alden, MN, shared this photo of one of the many horned larks that can be found along the rural roadways.
Driving down a busy road in Minneapolis, I spotted wild turkeys roosting high above the street in a tall tree.

I parked and walked to the facility where I was to speak. The neighborhood was chirping. Another tree had leafed out in smaller birds. They flew en masse from the tree. The birds passed in flying colors. It was beyond cool.

I wish you a tree of singing birds.

A Peeping Tom

Wayne and Shirley Gunderson live in rural Albert Lea along Pickerel Lake. A Peeping Tom had been bothering them. Maybe "bothering" is too strong a word. A Peeping Tom had been entertaining them. The Peeping Tom is a wild turkey that had been strutting and gobbling in front of his mirrored image in the window of the Gundersons' home. The tom was working on his dating technique.

Each day, someone calls me about a cardinal fighting with a window of a house. Soon, it will be robins shadow boxing with their reflections. They aren't bad battling visitors.

So far, the Gundersons' Peeping Tom has been well behaved, but a turkey will fight with its likeness in glass, too.

A calling birder

I was left a swell message by a woman who asked me to call a man about an odd bird coming to a suet feeder on his farm. I did as asked.

"Hello, Mr. Smith (name changed to protect the innocent)." I said as he answered the phone.


I identified myself and added, "Nice day," in a required effort to make small talk.

"Suits me," he said.

"I'd like to have a look at that bird of yours. Will you be home tomorrow morning?"

"Nope," he replied, "but the bird will be."

It was. I enjoyed seeing the Carolina wren.

Echoes from Loafer's Club

"I didn't get any sleep. My wife twisted my nose all night."

"Is she mad at you?"

"No, she dreamed that she'd forgotten to turn off the water in the sink."

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: people tend to fall back when they first spring ahead.

I've learned

To check for toilet paper first.

Yours is never the weirdest family.

If you are worried about getting a disease from biting insects, don't bite any.

The times they are a-changing

I've watched a number of basketball games from rock-hard gym seats this year. Few players wear eyeglasses anymore.

I went to a funeral to pay respects to the deceased. There, I was reminded that if I want to see a necktie, I should look in my closet.

In a hotel room, I watched a few minutes of "Gunsmoke" on TV. It was an episode starring Festus more than Matt Dillon. I prefer Festus to Chester for reasons I cannot explain. The old western's Dodge City was much different from anything today, but one of the most noticeable differences was the complete lack of beeping.

Ask Al

"How do I find north when I'm in the woods?" Face south and then turn around quickly.

"How far do you live from town?" Three or four miles, depending upon the traffic.

"What would you do if the boat you were in started leaking?" I'd put a pan under it.

My neighbor

My neighbor Still Bill, who will allow anyone to use his snow shovel to clear his walk, has a brother who was married recently. Still Bob, the brother, tied the knot with a girlfriend of longstanding.

We were all at a basketball game in Mankato. Somehow, his wife brought the conversation around to how nice it was that they were doing something together, instead of Still Bob spending all his time in an ice fishing shack. She suggested that he retire his ice auger.

Still Bob was stunned. He fell silent. She asked, "Darling, what's wrong?"

"You sounded just like my ex-wife," replied Still Bob.

"Ex-wife!" she screamed, "You never told me that you were married before!"

"I wasn't!"

Talk nice

Daniel Otten of Hayward said that his aunt told him, "Whenever many Ottens get together, nothing good happens."

She had a point. Families gather to find comfort after a death. That was true in this case. Daniel's uncle had died.

My mother was fond of saying, "It's a shame he had to miss his funeral. It would have been good had he heard all the nice things people said about him."

That is the truest of cautionary tales. We need to make an effort to say nice things to those important to us.

Right before Daniel's uncle died, he'd told his family, "Don't worry about me. I'll be all right."

Comforting words.


I stopped at a fast food restaurant to get a cup of hot tea. It wasn't my favorite tea, but it was better than none. The person ahead of me purchased a numbered meal and paid for it with cash pulled from a battered wallet held together by duct tape. The cashier gave the customer change. The man counted his change twice and was about to do it a third time when the cashier asked, "Is it all there?"

The man put his money away and grumbled, "Barely."

Cafe chronicles

The old stove was battered. There had been a run on pancakes. My nose rejoiced. Why can't more foods smell like bacon? I feel like I belong a little bit in many places, but the smell of bacon in a small town cafe tells me I'm home. A place where I find foods that I'd forgotten I'd liked; foods that could be reasoned with - not too spicy. Patrons who remember what it was like before they were held up at the point of a gas pump. Men who are willing to teach more than they know. Where everyone gets a slice of the baloney.

"These pancakes are fluffy, yet crispy. Golden brown and delicious," said a diner.

"You like them?" said the surprised waitress.

"Well, they could be rounder."

Did you know?

In a University College London study, participants chose a new behavior that could be repeated daily. On average, it took 66 days to make it a habit.

Nature notes

Melting snow reveals narrow runs of meadow vole trails across lawns.


On April 13, the Bluebird Recovery Program Expo will take place at the middle school in Northfield. The Expo is a pleasing way to learn about bluebirds and other birds. Please visit http://bbrp.org/ or contact Jenean Mortenson at jmmclm@localnet.com for more information.

Thanks for stopping by

"All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone." ― Blaise Pascal

"The sky is the daily bread of the eyes." - Ralph Waldo Emerson


©Al Batt 2013