I toured Lambeau Field. There were eight of us - two normal people, four Packer fans and two guides. The home of the 13-time NFL champions also offers a venue for wedding, birthday and prom parties. Built in 1957, Lambeau Field has 166 private suites available for $84,500 to $160,000 a year. It seats 73,142 fans uncomfortably and has sold out every game since 1960. Approximately 100,000 people are on the waiting list for season tickets, which nearly matches the population of Green Bay (104,000).

As we came out of the tunnel to the cheers of invisible fans and the music of a recorded band, we witnessed a heartwarming event. A Green Bay Packer player who'd been wandering around downtown had been shot with a tranquilizer dart and was relocated back into his natural habitat of Lambeau Field. There wasn't a dry eye at Lambeau.

While on the subject of football, the neighbor's son was home visiting family. He wrestles gators in Florida for a living. Not the chunks of blown tires found on the road, but real alligators. He's destined for great things.

I asked if he worried about being eaten by an alligator.

"No," he said, "I have a 'Minnesota Vikings Super Bowl Champions' tattoo. Even a gator wouldn't be able to swallow that."

On the road with a woolly bear

I listened to the wind as I walked to the mailbox.

I thought of Robert Frost's poem that read, "Not yesterday I learned to know the love of bare November days before the coming of the snow."

Thoughts of impending snow were discarded as my attention shifted to a small creature crawling across the road. It was brown in the middle and black on both ends.

It wasn't an overdone hamburger, it was a woolly bear caterpillar. One day, the woolly bear would become an Isabella tiger moth, but this day, it hurried across the road.

I picked it up. It rolled into a fine ball that would have made a hedgehog proud. I put the woolly bear down on the other side of the road.

I hoped it would find a place to winter. The woolly bear is not only capable of surviving our winters, it becomes winter, freezing solid before reviving when warmer days return.

Bird meteorologists

Marion Drescher of Alden mentioned her amazement at the ability of feeder birds to predict the weather. Birds feed intensely as air pressure falls. They have a natural barometer that is quite sensitive. This is a good thing because storms are generally associated with falling pressure and birds have a difficult time feeding during a storm. The ability to predict a storm gives them time to prepare.

Eider funeral

Judy Boyd and Bill Heinsen of Red Deer, Alberta, learned of an eider duck near Banff. It took them a couple of days to find the time, but they headed out to see it. They spent a morning looking for the duck, but had no luck.

They took a break to get something to eat. While in the restaurant, Bill bought the local newspaper to read while waiting for the food. There on the front page of the paper, the headlines declared that the rare duck had been found dead.

Despite missing their target bird, Judy and Bill birded a bit before going home - with little luck.

Judy said there was no avian activity because all the birds were at the funeral. I think it was nice that the other birds respected their eiders.

Petting a porcupine

I visited Medicine River Wildlife Centre located near the hamlet of Raven in central Alberta. Each year, wild animals are injured, orphaned or compromised. Many of these animals are rescued, treated and released back into their natural habitat thanks to facilities like the MRWC, a wildlife hospital and environmental education center dedicated to assisting distressed wild animals. Through an extensive network of volunteer drivers and first aid stations, wild patients arrive from around Alberta.

The MRWC produced a children's book, "Otis's Story," written by MRWC's education owl, Otis. I provided a bit of the voice for Otis, a great horned owl. The great horned owl is the provincial bird of Alberta.

Alberta has no Norway (brown) rats, but they have wood rats. I enjoyed seeing a bushy-tailed wood rat that had been found under the hood of a car returned from a trip to the mountains. The wood rat is a cute critter known as a packrat in stories told around the fire. It steals shiny objects from campsites. If it finds something it wants, it drops what it is carrying, and "trades" it for the new item.

This inspired an anecdote about a man's dime being replaced by two nickels. A wood rat picks up curious objects it finds and packs them home to its den, where bits of rock or wood, bones, or shiny objects add to the den's strength.

I petted a porcupine named Charlie at the MRWC. When you pet a porcupine, you pet in only one direction. A porcupine's body, with the exception of the belly and legs, is covered with 30,000 sharp quills. Porcupines cannot throw these quills.

Echoes from Loafers' Club

"What would you do if you woke up one morning and you had become a millionaire?"

"I'd go back to sleep."

"Why would you go back to sleep?"

"To see if I could sleep up another million dollars."

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: drivers who enjoy seeing a combine working in a farm field aren't so happy to see one ahead of them on the road.

I've learned

1. A bird in the hand poops.

2. Velcro is a rip off.

3. The "right tool for the job" is the yeti of the do-it-yourselfer's toolbox - talked about, but never found.

The news from Hartland

Prophecy Gas station is self-fulfilling.

St. Menard's Hardware offers dead batteries free of charge.

The police department downsizes. Traffic law violators must now write their own tickets.

Sneeze, please

I'd been at a meeting. We had watched a film in a room darkened to enhance the viewing. At the meeting's conclusion, I stepped outside into the bright sunlight. There is something called the photic sneeze reflex that refers to sneezing provoked by the sudden exposure to brilliant sunlight. It's also called the Autosomal Dominant Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst syndrome or ACHOO. I call it sun sneezing.

This scenario usually causes me to sneeze three times. That's OK. It's nice when people say "Bless you" when I do a simple thing like sneezing. Gesundheit is a polite way of saying, "Missed me."

The sneeze is the only instrument I play. My parents thought I'd be a musician as I played the radio when I was only 4 years old. I enjoy incorporating other words into my sneezes. Anyway, there I was, about to sneeze and then I didn't. I wanted to sneeze, but I couldn't. It was a case of sneeze freeze.


I attended a friend's birthday party. On the tables were tiny cards. One side of every card read, "CHAT PACK. For Questions to Spark Conversations." On the back of each card was a question such as, "Which punctuation mark would best describe your personality?" I thought that was an interesting question. I had an immediate answer. It would be interrobang or interabang that is indicated by ?! or !?. It combines the functions of the question mark and the exclamation point. I have so many things that I don't know and I'm so excited to learn new things.

Meeting adjourned

Choose wisely. Choose kindness.

Thanks for stopping by

"The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it." - Richard Bach

"The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper." - Eden Phillpotts


©Al Batt 2012