A display of squirrels includes, from left, a fox squirrel, gray squirrel and a black (grey squirrel.
A display of squirrels includes, from left, a fox squirrel, gray squirrel and a black (grey squirrel.
Pelicans flew overhead, a synchronized elegance. Headless, large birds provided more aerial ballet. The headless birds actually had heads. They were red and featherless, but not always very evident in flight. They were turkey vultures.

The morning had been beautiful. The afternoon rainy and dreary. The day had pulled the old bait and switch routine on me.

To make up for it, the day filled the air with beautiful birds. So many birds, it was difficult to get any work done as I struggled to get past the wonder of it all.

Echoes from the Loafers' Club Meeting

"I learned to ride a horse before I could walk."

"Wow! When did you learn to walk?"

"After I'd learned that I wasn't very good at riding a horse."

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: Why does a lawn covered with dandelions look beautiful compared to a lawn with only a few?

I've learned

Most senior moments echo junior moments.

Charging everything doesn't make one brighter.

I enjoy the company of moody people as long as their moods are good ones.

Scary bridges

I visited with Mike Wallin of Hartland about scary bridges. Mike is a truck driver who travels on many bridges. I admit that I enjoy driving the Mackinac Bridge, even while behind the wheel of a Rent-A-Wreck. The Mackinac Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Straits of Mackinac to connect the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan. It's five miles long. Not everyone shares my pleasure. Gephyrophobia is an anxiety disorder brought about by the fear of bridges.

Bale tale

Dan Martin of Vermillion, Ohio, told me that he grew up on a hilly farm in southern Ohio. His father baled hay and allowed the bales to drop to the ground. Then he pulled a hayrack near the bales and his three boys loaded the hay onto the rack. One stacked them while the other two carried them to the wagon.

The boys became good at the job. So good, that other farmers hired them to bale. They found employment with neighbors who paid them a penny per bale stacked. This wasn't a white-collar job. It wasn't even a blue-collar job. It was a ring-around-the-collar job.

It was like a big glass of yellow jackets to quench a thirst.

The boys put their heads together and decided they needed $1.25 an hour, each. The farmers declared the demand outrageous and refused to pay it. They hired boys from the city - for three days. After that, they met the demand and rehired the original crew.

Happy birthday

Jeanne Nielsen of Pipestone was in a hurry to get to work. Too much of a hurry. She was pulled over by a state trooper for speeding. The officer asked to see Jeanne's drivers license. The officer noticed that it was Jeanne's birthday. The trooper told Jeanne what the fine would be. Then the trooper told Jeanne that she was getting by with a warning as long as she did two things. The first, was to slow down. The second, was that Jeanne should take the money she'd have spent on the fine and buy herself a nice birthday present in that same amount.

Customer comments

Kari Johnson of Perham said, "If you're bored, it's your own fault."

Darlene Lee of Mankato said that her husband described her as being a cross between a Norwegian and a Swede. Half of each, but mostly cross.

Ona Meyer of Hartland told me that when she was a girl and dropped food onto the floor, her father said, "Would you like your plate down there, too?"

Loren Skelton of Missoula, Mont., said that one of his teachers wore her hair in a tight bun because that was the only way she could smile.

Did you know?

The Quarter Pounder Index uses the price of that McDonald's product with cheese to gauge cost of living differences between cities. The burger costs more than twice as much in Juneau, Ak., than it does in Conway, Ark. Hawaii and Alaska make up 40 percent of the top 10 most expensive places, likely due to increased shipping costs.

Nature notes

A deer is the most dangerous mammal in North America. November has the highest rate of these car/deer collisions. Deer are in rut then. Cars may be, too.

The harvest removes hiding spots in cornfields and daylight hours grow shorter, meaning dawn and dusk (deer are crepuscular) coincide with the busiest commuting times.

According to State Farm's most recent report, West Virginia is the state where a driver has the greatest chance of colliding with a deer (1 in 40 annually). South Dakota with 1 in 68, Iowa with 1 in 72, Michigan with 1 in 73 and Pennsylvania with 1 in 76 round out the top five states with the highest risk of a buck-to-bumper.

Montana is 1 in 78, Wisconsin is 1 in 79 and Minnesota is in eighth place at 1 in 80. Watching for deer crossing signs helps; deer whistles mounted on bumpers don't. When you see one deer, look for another.

Nature lessons

Spanish moss is not a moss.

Just think how much the state of Minnesota saves in printing costs by having a black and white bird, the common loon, as its state bird.

The scientific name of a coyote is Canis latrans, which means "barking dog."

Please join me on the Pelican Breeze at 1:30 p.m. on June 22, July 13, or Aug. 24. Call (507) 377-4370.

Thanks for stopping by

"I am a big believer in the 'mirror test.' All that matters is if you can look in the mirror and honestly tell the person you see there, that you've done your best." ~ John McKay

"There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot. Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher 'standard of living' is worth its cost in things natural, wild, and free. For us of the minority, the opportunity to see geese is more important than television, and the chance to find a pasque-flower is a right as inalienable as free speech." ~ Aldo Leopold

Meeting adjourned

A kind word is priceless.


© Al Batt 2013