A flying flower lets its light shine through.  AL BATT/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
A flying flower lets its light shine through. AL BATT/BLUFF COUNTRY READER

I live where people live in complete harmony with mosquitoes in January.

I’m tall. I'm not so tall that angry villagers carry pitchforks and torches to my house, but I’m tall.

I’ve read that insects are attracted to tall people. I suspect that is true, but would add that they are attracted to short people, too. As a tall man, I do know that I attract ceiling fans.

I have a ceiling fan in my office. It makes me nervous. I probably obtained it as a gift for my wife. That's the way husbands get things.

Duane Spooner of Hartland had gotten his wife a birthday present. When Kathy, his wife, asked where the present was, Duane told her that it was outside, parked in front of the garage. Kathy got excited. She was less thrilled when she saw that there, in front of the garage, was a brand-new burn barrel.

Not an amusement park

There was a minivan right on my bumper and a four-wheel-drive pickup not far ahead of me. Nothing unusual about that. Rush hour in a large city, right?

Wrong. I wasn’t driving. I wasn’t even a passenger. I was parked at the county fair. I parked where I’d been directed. The minivan parked behind me was no problem. It was where it should be. The problem was the truck. It had parked ahead of me without thought of others. When I finished working at the fair, it was nearly 11 p.m. I was anxious to get home.

Unfortunately, someone parked the truck as if he’d stolen the vehicle, making it impossible for me to escape the parking lot.

The driver was like the lunch lady who snarled, "I can dish it out. Can you take it?"

A traveling man

I drove a Dodge Avenger rental car one day and a Subaru Forrester rental car the next. I liked the Subaru best. Driving the Dodge Avenger made me feel like a superhero that shirks his duty at the last moment.

I spoke on a big boat. A bit of stormy weather came up. The boat was in no danger, but I jokingly told the passengers to throw everything unnecessary overboard. That water was cold.

Report from the road

I drove down Highway 13. My wife was riding shotgun. We met eight white vehicles in a row. It wasn’t a funeral procession and the eight white colors might have been linen, arctic, ermine, pure, classic, Wimbledon, winter white and ivory, but they were white. White is the most popular color for cars in the U.S. We’ve become a white car nation.

Echoes from Loafers’ Club

How much do you weigh?

I weigh 237 pounds.


That’s pretty normal for someone my weight.

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 don't need a parachute to skydive unless I want to do it more than once.

I’ve learned

Mosquitoes let us know that we are never alone.

When you jump in the shower, don't jump in the shower.

To cultivate humility because I never know when I’m going to need it.

Cafe chronicles

Winner, winner, chicken dinner. Or beef dinner or fish dinner or ham dinner.

Their companionship was held together by coffee and gravy.

One man grumbled that no day is so nice that sleep isn’t nicer.

Another admitted his marriage might be in trouble. His wife just got hearing aids.

A third said that he had protective parents. At his house, they were only allowed to play rock, paper.

He remembered getting his tattoo. His mother loved it. That was because she loved yelling at him.

As I left the eatery, I saw this bumper sticker on a car, "Warsh me."

Did you know?

The name "Canada" is based on the Iroquoian word kanata meaning "village, settlement."

The average American consumer eats 142 pounds of potatoes per year.

The Rice Krispies trio of Snap!, Crackle! and Pop! were briefly a quartet. Pow! was the fourth.

Any 31-day month that begins on a Friday has five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sundays.

The sheath at the end of a shoelace is an aglet.

Nature by the yard

The yard moved from the torment of an abundance of dratted free-range mosquitoes to not having enough shade for a hot toad.

Mosquitoes might have been the original skin divers.

I petted bumblebees. I do that every year. It doesn’t seem to bother the bumblebees and it delights me. I pet them as they busy themselves on flowers and the bumblebees ignore me as if I were terms and conditions. They have never stung me in response, but I don’t recommend the activity.

I watched American goldfinches, granivores eating seeds. The bright yellow of the males delighted me.

‘Four’ crying out loud

I was working at the county fair. It’s nice doings. There were four young children crying in the conservation building. My son has five children and has learned that he can be only as happy as his most miserable child. The parents of each of the crying four dragged their reluctant children to the fish tanks filled with, wait for it, fish. Each of the kids stopped crying and watched the fish.

Nature, even when in captivity, has the power to soothe.


Connie Probst of Albert Lea wondered if it’s true that pelicans feed blood to their young. The female pelican was once believed to be so devoted to her young that she’d peck at her own breast to feed them with her blood. As a result, the bird came to symbolize the crucifixion and Jesus sacrificing himself for the world. The legend of self-wounding and the provision of blood may have arisen because of the impression a pelican sometimes gives of stabbing itself with its bill. Another possible derivation is the tendency of the bird to rest its bill on its breast.

Harlan Lutteke of Alden asks if there are fewer Canada geese in Minnesota this year and how long pheasants stay with their mother. The DNR survey showed a slightly over 2 percent decrease in the breeding population of Canada geese. A ring-necked pheasant incubates eggs from 23 to 28 days. The chicks are precocial, so leave the nest as soon as they are dry. The hen guides her chicks in finding insects, plentiful food high in protein. By two weeks of age, chicks can fly short distances. Their adult feathers start coming in after six weeks. By fall, the young birds resemble their parents. They stay with their mothers for at least 10 weeks.

Bryce Gaudian of Hayward asked how long weed seeds are viable. The answer depends on the species. Seeds of most annual grasses die after two or three years, but some broadleaf weed seeds last for decades. On average, weed seeds are depleted in about five years if no additional seeds are added.

Nature notes

The largest bird in weight in Minnesota is the trumpeter swan, which hits the scales at up to 30 pounds. The wild turkey weighs as much as 25 pounds. The biggest wingspan is the American white pelican at nine feet.

Nature lessons

Dry springs typically mean more grasshoppers.

A misting of vanilla extract keeps biting gnats away — at least for some folks.

I’ll miss Bill Bryson of Alden. He was a true Audubon adventurer.

Thanks for stopping by

 "Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eyes level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain." — Thoreau

“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it." — Kurt Vonnegut

Meeting adjourned

"Life is an attitude. Have a good one." — Eric L. Lungaard 


© Al Batt 2014