Darcy Sime of Alden shared this photo of a Canada Warbler.
Darcy Sime of Alden shared this photo of a Canada Warbler.
I sat in an auto repair place. I was preparing myself to tremble pitifully as they tabulated my bill.

I looked out an enormous window and watched a squirrel scamper. That's what squirrels do. American white pelicans flew over in squadrons in tight formation over the street. I imagined their shadows falling upon passing cars. Turkey vultures circled over the repair shop as if they might find a dead car to be a delectable dish. I spotted several warblers flitting about in landscaped vegetation.

I have been on a whale-watching trip. It was a righteous endeavor. It was no more exciting than the wildlife-watching trip I took without leaving a chair in the waiting room of an auto repair enterprise.

The house wren

Most house wrens migrate to the southern United States and Mexico for the winter. The house wren's scientific name is Troglodytes aedon. A troglodyte means "one who lives in caves."

How can a tiny brown bird be a caveman?

This wren builds nests in natural cavities, such as woodpecker holes and in artificial ones that include nest boxes, mailboxes, cans and jars. A friend made a wren house out of an old cowboy boot. A wren took to it like a duck to water.

Aedon, in Greek mythology, was a daughter of Pandareus. According to Homer, she was the wife of Zethus, who with his brother Amphion was the joint king of Thebes. She had only two children and envied her sister-in-law, Niobe, who had many. She planned to murder Niobe's eldest son in his sleep, but by mistake killed her own son, Itylus, who was asleep in the same room. Zeus took pity on Aedon in her grief and changed her into a nightingale; her song was a lament for her dead son.

A wren isn't a nightingale, but is a skilled songster.

Ducking a duck

I was doing a marsh survey at Myre-Big Island State Park. It should have been darker than dark, but most of a moon provided light.

I was waist deep into the task and mosquitoes when a blue-winged teal flew straight at me. I had to fall to the earth to keep from being hit in the head. It would have knocked me right out of my Red Wing boots.

I don't think the duck did that on purpose, but I don't know for sure. The blue-winged teal is a small duck, but it could have done me harm.

I would have come to hearing a voice saying, "How many fingers am I holding up? Do you know what day this is?"

I wouldn't have gotten either of those questions right even if I hadn't been hit in the noggin by a blue-winged teal.

Echoes from the Loafers' Club meeting

"A wasp stung me on my nose."

"Did you put something on it?"

"No, it flew away too fast."

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: the most popular spectator sport is watching the weather.

I've learned

1. It's difficult to tell if you're living up to or down to someone's expectations.

2. To be thankful that I have more aches than pains.

3. Mirrors were better when I was younger.

Café chronicles

It was one of those cafes where each meal came with four utensils - a fork, knife, spoon and flyswatter.

Flies don't bother me much. Years ago, a wise man told me that I should eat a toad first thing in the morning. That makes everything else I might do that day much easier. It's good practice to do disagreeable tasks first.

I've noticed that there are two kinds of swatters. Some people like the flies smashed dead. Other folks like to swat them lightly, only wounding them, figuring that would be enough punishment for the sin of being a fly.

I heard a lot of singing coming from the cafe's restroom. That was because the restroom door had no lock.

The table topic centered on garden produce. There was a discussion on how corn on the cob should be eaten. I usually eat it across moving left to right like a typewriter. Once I have a clearing, I might change to eating around the cob.

An ear of corn will always have an even number of rows unless some sort of stress disrupted the developmental process.

The discourse moved to how to pick a good watermelon. Proponents of thumping, slapping, smelling, examining the stem and lifting were heard from. When it was my turn, I revealed my method - I rely on good luck.

A bump in the road

Georgette Bauman of Burnsville was driving one of our local roads when she hit a bone-jarring bump. She traveled a bit farther before she spotted a "Bump" sign. She asked me why the bump preceded the sign. I told her it was so she would know what she'd just hit.

Lingering on the subject of signs, Dennis Anderson of Hartland asked what color yield signs are. I thought it was a trick question, but without looking at a yield sign, what color is it? The sign was established as a point-down equilateral triangle (aren't you glad you paid attention in school) with a black legend and border on a yellow background. In 1971, the yield sign changed to the red background with the white region in the center of the sign we see today.

Googling refrigerator pickles

My wife, She Who Must Be Obeyed, asked why I don't like refrigerator pickles. I told her that it was because of the tiny magnet on the back of each pickle. To be honest, I'm not sure what a refrigerator pickle is. I don't know what makes a refrigerator pickle a refrigerator pickle. I don't need to ask anyone, I could simply Google it.

Eric Steinmetz of Mankato told me that he misses the friendly arguments that took place before Google. Does Google inform while making us dumber?


I was sitting in a restaurant with John Butler of Albert Lea, Gus Courrier of Emmons and Paul Sunde of Blooming Prairie. We are men who share things like suffering injuries while opening once-sticky junk drawers that we didn't know had been cleared of all obstruction (rolls of tape). If you clean a junk drawer, you should label it.

We were having a serious discussion. Was it about the economy? Gas prices? Healthcare? No, it was about wart cures. John suggested one involving duct tape. Gus offered a cure that required the burial of chicken parts under a waning moon. Paul proposed the sticky juice of the milkweed plant. I agreed with Paul.

Nature notes

Jenean Mortenson of Faribault asked where to find a monarch butterfly chrysalis. A striking green and gold, jewel-like chrysalis could be anywhere - on a milkweed plant, leaf, twig, rock, fence rail, etc. The caterpillar attaches itself where it feels safe. Butterfly caterpillars don't spin cocoons. If you see a caterpillar spinning a cocoon, it's going to become a moth. Butterfly caterpillars transform into a chrysalis or pupa. When the monarch caterpillar is ready to become a chrysalis, it hangs upside down in a J-shape. It wiggles until its skin splits and a chrysalis appears where a caterpillar used to be - a trick to make any magician proud.

Thanks for stopping by

"Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein." - H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

"A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit." - D. Elton Trueblood

Meeting adjourned

A kind word fosters miracles.


©Al Batt 2012