A red-breasted nuthatch enjoys some sunflower seeds at the feeder. AL BATT/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
A red-breasted nuthatch enjoys some sunflower seeds at the feeder. AL BATT/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
She hit a home run as her team won the Benilde softball tournament. She hit another as her team took the Waseca tournament. I watched her swish a three pointer effortlessly during an AAU basketball tournament. Her grades are in the A category.

A granddaughter has become a seventh grader. It happened so quickly. It seems like only yesterday when I held her when she was brand new.

As I watched her on the field and court, I felt love, happy and old.

I visited a friend who was lightening his load. He had nearly 90 years of experience and was disposing of things that he once yearned for. It left his house with a spare look, as if it were being emptied. That was because it was being emptied. It wasn't unattractive. Books were spread about as if they were ingredients for a hotdish about to be prepared.

Sooner or later, the books will go. His residence will be filled with little but memories.

I file the memories of academic and athletic accomplishments of loved ones for a day that needs filling

Echoes from the Loafers' Club Meeting

I grew up poor. There were 23 kids in my family.

Did you live on the wrong side of the tracks?

With 23 kids, we lived on both sides of the tracks.

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: you can blame yourself for anything if you think about it long enough.

The news from Hartland

Dentist Les Plack has a saliva barrel that he uses to water his garden.

Grain elevator is a large-scale effort.

Pat Pending buys copy machine in an attempt to do some human cloning.

Musician fired for taking notes.

Hast a la vista, baby

One of my students in a writing class had the hiccups. I asked the rest of the class if they had any cures. As is usually the case, someone advised that the troubled young man say, "Pineapple."

He did and the hiccups went away.

A day later, I tried the same cure on my hiccupping wife. Her hiccups stopped.

Those thrilling days of yesteryear

I grew up with an outhouse.

We were in the same grade.

An outhouse was always an interesting place to transact business.

There was a stick with a sharpened point that leaned against our outhouse.

It was used to fend off bloodthirsty mosquitoes.

If everyone drove a white automobile, it would be a white car nation

A friend, Alan McBride of Preston, England, is a Pisces born on March 5. I am a fellow Pisces.

Alan told me that reincarnation is done in order and done 12 times, once for each astrological sign. Pisces are last. A Pisces is on his 12th life. His journey on Earth is nearly finished.

Alan says he doesn't get excited about things, because everything is familiar. He has seen it 11 times before.

I've never been good at being a Pisces. We are supposed to see both sides, which makes it difficult to take a side. I do that, but I get excited about opportunities, adventures, and the beauty of this world.

Another friend, Chris Watson, lives in Alice Springs, Australia. It's a place where it's easy to get sand in your shoes. One of the world's most venomous plants is found there, the gympie-gympie stinging tree that can cause months of excruciating pain for unfortunate people. But as Chris explains, the stinging tree doesn't chase anyone down the street. That's certainly the silver lining of a dark cloud. Who could keep from wanting to visit a place named Alice Springs?

I am grateful for each day.

Customer comments

Tim Strivens of Suffolk, United Kingdom, says that an alcoholic is someone who drinks more than his doctor.

Did you know?

The USDA says that 31 percent of our food goes uneaten.

The average United States worker toils 4.6 percent more hours than a Canadian worker, 21 percent more hours than a French worker and 28 percent more hours than a German worker, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Naturally

A field of poppies was pleasing as I used my binoculars to find a red-backed shrike on a utility wire in rural Hungary.

I've a lifelong habit of scanning trees for a glimpse of something, not wanting to miss what was there. I know that if I look, I might be rewarded.

I looked and listened intently, as if I might encounter angels.

A slight breeze was just enough to be described as "susurrous," the sound produced as the wind blew threw the trees. It's a whispering or rustling sound that's not limited to trees, leaves and grasses. Wind turns most everything into a musical instrument. Breezes, streams and frying bacon are capable of producing susurrous sounds

I saw the shrike. He was a handsome bird.

It proved once more that if we really look at a bird, we see far beyond it.

Helen Isabel Moorhouse wrote, "And I think, if you listen closely In the sweet glad days of spring, With the song of the brook, the breeze and the birds, You can hear the flowers sing."

Farley Mowat

Farley Mowat is known for his books about the Canadian Arctic. He became interested in that area as a teenager while on a birding trip to the Arctic tundra. While there, he saw a herd of caribou and that sight stuck with him the rest of his life.

He became employed by the Canadian government as a biologist in the Northwest Territories. His assignment was to study wolves and their effect on the caribou population. He found that the wolves had little impact. His research resulted in the book, "Never Cry Wolf." The Russian government banned the slaughter of wolves because of the findings and the book became a bestseller.

Q-and-A

"Do pheasants lay eggs in wild turkey nests?" Yes, ring-necked pheasants are nest parasites of wild turkeys. Wild turkeys do something called "egg dumping," which means that they will lay eggs in another turkey's nest. Both pheasants and turkeys will lay eggs in the nests of ruffed grouse.

Wild turkey females raise one brood per year. The nest is a shallow depression in the ground, typically surrounded by dense brush, vines, tangles, deep grass or fallen trees. The female lays four to 17 eggs and incubates them for 25 to 31 days. The chicks are precocial, able to walk and feed themselves within 24 hours of hatching. The hen broods the chicks at night for two weeks after hatching.

"Why do I see Canada geese flying northward in June?" The Canada geese are traveling north to molt. During the molting period, geese are flightless. These flocks consist primarily of yearlings, non-breeding adults and pairs that failed to raise young. The flocks form in early May. Most of the geese we see end up on the shore of Hudson Bay. Once the molt is finished and the geese have regained their ability to fly, they begin their flight back to Minnesota around Labor Day.

"What could I do to eliminate squirrels and grackles at my bird feeders?" You might try feeding safflower seed, an annual oil seed grown in the United States and Canada. It has a hard, white, outer hull. Safflower is high in protein and provides oil, meal and bird seed. It attracts a large variety of birds, but it is not a favorite of squirrels and grackles.

Nature lessons

Raspberry thickets are favored nesting locations for indigo buntings. The dense, thorny stems provide the nestlings with protection from many predators and the berries are a convenient source of food.

I watched a black tern glide elegantly over a small wetland. A tern is like a sleek version of a gull. The black tern is a graceful bird. This one fluttered like a swallow as it snatched flying insects over a pond.

An employee at Oxbow Park near Byron brought out one of the Park's education birds, a northern saw-whet owl. It was an adorable little thing, maybe seven inches long, dwarfed by the nearby big bluestem that can reach seven feet.

Nature notes

Cedar waxwings feed on fruits. Their name derives from their appetite for cedar berries, but they also eat the fruits of mountain ash, honeysuckle, crabapple, hawthorn and more. In the song, "Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries," there is this line, "You keep repeating, it's the berries." When it comes to cedar waxwings, life is the berries.

Thanks for stopping by

"I had never paid much attention to spiders until a few years ago. Once you begin watching spiders, you haven't time for much else - the world is really loaded with them. I do not find them repulsive or revolting, any more than I find anything in nature repulsive or revolting, and I think it is too bad that children are often corrupted by their elders in this hate campaign. Spiders are skilful, amusing and useful and only in rare instances has anybody ever come to grief because of a spider." - E. B. White, author of "Charlotte's Web."

"Zeal without knowledge is like speed to a man in the dark." - John Newton, who composed the hymn, "Amazing Grace."

Meeting adjourned

There is no weakness in kindness.

Al Batt 2014