Watching birds helped tolerate May snowstorm
Monday, May 13, 2013 9:44 AM
I tried to find my shadow. It was nowhere to be seen. A May snowstorm had dropped at least 17 inches of the stuff. I know because my wife stuck a yardstick into the wet snow.
Dorothy Sime of Alden shared this photo of a leucistic robin.
On a day when farmers should have been planting corn, I walked in the whitened landscape to do chores. My boots stand 16-and-one-half inches high. They weren't nearly tall enough.
I don't like to be the first to step into new snow. The lack of deep prints presents a luscious likelihood, like an artist's easel filled with possibilities. A dog had walked first. It was more of a delirious bound than his usual meander. My deep footprints in the white snow offered glimpses of a glacier-like blue.
The trees had not had a good night. Many were broken. There would be extensive cleanup required. Dead trees toppled. I'll likely miss the dead more than the living trees.
I filled the feeders as a white-throated sparrow whistled, "Old Sven Peterson, Peterson, Peterson, Peterson."
A pair of brown thrashers perched together and looked as if they were trying to make sense of it all. I hoped they were capable of thrashing snow as well as they do leaves.
A bald eagle flew over.
On a day that could not be less suited for golf, I had birdies and an eagle.
That's not a bad day. It's good to be a birder.
The bird dude
Neil Lang of Albert Lea and Val Forsythe of Albert Lea reported separate sightings of a house sparrow that was completely white except for a couple of gray feathers.
I'd seen a grackle recently that had a number of white feathers.
It wasn't making a fashion statement. It was exhibiting leucism. When I was a boy, such a condition would have been called piebald. The condition was often called partial albinism.
Canada geese had much to say as I watched an osprey fly over a lake as if the act gave it pleasure.
I drove through falling snow as a flock of Franklin's gulls flew overhead - small, black-headed gulls that were named after Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin and called "prairie doves" by early settlers.
A young man called and asked if I were the "bird dude."
I admitted that I might be. He said that his father was being slowly driven insane by squirrels at the feeders. He'd put up "No squirrels allowed" signs on behalf of his father, but they were of no help. Squirrels refuse to read signs. I gave him some ideas for discouraging squirrels. Nice young man. I hope my suggestions helped.
I stepped outside into weather that few would have claimed to be "nice."
There were inches of finches on the feeders. I stood quietly and listened to all the birdies sing - red-winged blackbirds, white-throated sparrows, brown thrashers and rose-breasted grosbeaks.
May snow can mean only one thing. June is next month.
Ona on a glass
Ona Meyer of Hartland told me that her bird feeders had been overwhelmed with grackles. Each time their numbers grew large, Ona walked to the glass door. She didn't need to open it. The grackles saw her coming and made a hasty retreat.
This maneuver proved so effective that Ona's husband, Don, plans on enlarging a photo of Ona and affixing it to the sliding glass door to keep the grackles away.
Echoes from Loafers' Club
"How do you pronounce the capital of Kentucky? Is it Louieville or Luisville?"
"I say Louieville."
"You're wrong, it's Frankfort."
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: I think there are oceans on the moon, but some claim that is luna sea.
Shoestrings can be used as floss in an emergency.
Not to forget the mashed potatoes when making a bucket list
Anyone can palm a basketball if he lets enough air out of it.
The news from Hartland
Ann Chovey's Pizza Shop is now serving breakfast. It's cold pizza.
Conan the Barber provides haircuts while you wait.
Deer hunting by Buick season opens.
I sat in a food co-op enjoying a slice of cheese, a scone and tea.
I said to my much-better half, "This is a busy place."
I say that often. Eat joints are busy.
I loved going to the dime store when I was a boy. They sold birds, turtles, hamsters and grilled cheese sandwiches. Not all on the menu. That was a busy place, too.
I hoped that I wasn't sitting in someone's favorite chair in the co-op. That might put him off his feed. I'd visited a small, country church where a woman told me that she had sat in the same pew since she was 11 years old. I'd hoped she'd gotten up a few times. My wife's Aunt Ingeborg had an assigned seat in a pew at Trinity Lutheran for several millenniums. She believed that if she'd changed pews, it would have exhibited a callous disregard for religious tradition.
We aren't set in our ways. We're consistent.
Horses without training wheels
Bruce Switzer rode a horse alongside his 5-year old grandson on their ranch near Burwell, Neb. The little boy slid off his pony. Bruce scrambled from his steed and was relieved to find that his grandson was unhurt. Bruce asked what happened. His grandson replied, "The horse was running faster than I could ride."
I was in a bookstore in Cleveland, Ohio, when I found myself attempting to read the tattoo on a young man's forearm. He told me an odd tale of what the letters meant. It made no sense to me, but he seemed chuckled by it. He then smiled, looked around the store and said, "They have some pretty awesome crap here."
I was searching for postcards. I'm a fan of postcards. I send my wife a postcard each night I'm away from home. The bookstore had none. Neither had a hotel, drugstore or supermarket. I made an executive decision to buy postcards at the airport on my way home.
After going through security, I headed to Hudson News, a vendor of books, newspapers, snacks and other things for travelers. I bought postcards picturing local scenes. After addressing and stamping the postcards, I added appropriate whimsy and embarked on seeking a mailbox.
After a grueling search, I gave up. I stopped and asked the clerk at Hudson News where I might find a mailbox. She said there were no mailboxes inside the airport, but there was one located just outside the terminal. That meant I'd have to go through security again. I didn't relish the prospect. My face must have betrayed my thoughts. The kind clerk said that she'd gladly mail the postcards for me when she finished her shift.
She did. My wife got the postcards. Things worked out.
It May snow
Phones are amazing. They allow a person to be in two places at once. I did an interview for a radio station in Ohio. I babbled via phone from my home. The host said that it was a sunny 74-degree day outside his studio. He asked me how the weather was in Minnesota. I told him. It was May and 18 inches of snow had fallen in my yard. There was silence, a sin in the radio industry. I assured him that the Buckeye State and the Gopher State used the same calendar.
Roger Batt of Algona asks how an earthworm digs a hole. The earthworm digs a burrow by eating its way through the soil. As the worm digs, it swallows the dirt and digests the decaying plant and food matter in the dirt. The soil passes through the earthworm's body and is left on the ground in little castings. The earthworm eats itself into house and home.
People think of you as often as you think of them. Be kind.
Thanks for stopping by
"One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between Man and Nature shall not be broken." - Leo Tolstoy
"You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred." - Woody Allen