A female cardinal looks surprised by the snow.
A female cardinal looks surprised by the snow.
I heard a maple tree cough.

It's the tree I tap to get cough syrup.

A dove cried mournfully and gulls flew overhead. There was a group in the 1980s called A Flock of Seagulls that sang "And I ran, I ran so far away. I just ran, I ran all night and day."

I didn't want to run away. The yard is a perfect place to be on a sunny, spring day.

A red squirrel chattered. The American red squirrel is also called a pine squirrel or a chickaree. Red squirrels are somewhat larger than chipmunks.

I saw a boxelder bug on the deck. A single boxelder bug or lady beetle in the house can be adorable. A thousand of them in the house is creepy.

I did a bit of a dance as I walked on the lawn. It was a sidestep meant to avoid stepping on dog poop. Where are the dung beetles when I need them? A dung beetle does just as its name suggests. It rolls a bit of dung into a ball, rolls it away and buries it. The ball is used by the female to lay eggs in or it becomes food.

Robins seemed to be everywhere. It was as if the word "ubiquitous" was coined to describe their presence. Batman isn't the only one with a robin. We all have our very own robin.

Echoes from Loafers' Club

"If I had Warren Buffet's money, I'd be richer than he is."

"How do you figure that?"

"Well, I'd have both his money and mine."

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: where I live, we have air that hasn't even been breathed yet.

I grew up along the shores of Mule Lake

You might be from Mule Lake if you floss by eating sweet corn.

I watched Barney Fife as he and Matt Dillon helped Perry Mason find Lassie. We didn't get very good TV reception.

As I did my farm chores, I didn't dream of becoming Barney Fife, although that would have been a worthy goal. I dreamed of becoming a licensed driver who owned a car.

When that dream became a reality, I was the proud owner of a car that had its value doubled whenever I filled it with gas. It had no horsepower. It had possumpower.

I put oversized tires on the rear of the car. They were much bigger than those on the front. I didn't do that because it looked cool. I did it because it fooled the motor into thinking it was going downhill.

Shopping takes a wrong turn

I drove by a business that had closed recently. Sad thing. It was someone's dream.

I recently walked into a store that I frequent. I'm somewhere else more than I'm in the store, but I do shop there for business supplies.

I came though the front doors. That's a good place to start. These doors that lead to other doors are the kind that open automatically when they sense the presence of a customer.

I stepped through those doors and turned right. That was wrong. Turning right led to the exit doors. I backtracked and entered the store through the doors made for entering. I turn right, the wrong way, almost every time I enter that store. I blame it on Creedence Clearwater Revival. I enjoy listening to CCR. In their song, "Bad Moon Rising," there is the line, "There's a bad moon on the rise." That's the line, but it sounds as if they are singing, "There's a bathroom on the right."

A lot of stress can be eliminated by never passing a restroom. Therefore, I turn right.

There was a story there

I stopped to get gas at Fleet Farm in Owatonna. As I filled the tank, a man drove past me driving an old Murray lawn tractor. He didn't roar past me or zoom by me. It was more of a mosey. I paid for my gas forged from gold and continued my journey northward. As I turned off Bridge Street onto the I-35 entrance ramp, there he was motoring down it. I would have loved to talk to that fellow.

Peter and the Wolf

In grammar school, one of my best days was when we listened to "Peter and the Wolf" on a record played on, what else, a record player. It was a composition by Sergei Prokofiev written in 1936; a children's story spoken by a narrator accompanied by an orchestra. A flute played the bird's theme, an oboe played the duck's, and a clarinet played the cat's theme. Watching birds is a symphony.

Did you know?

They advertised X-ray specs in the funny books. They were supposed to allow you to see through things. Feathers were sandwiched between two sheets of cardboard from which the glasses were cut. When you looked through the two 1/4-inch holes, you looked through the feathers, which diffracted light and created the impression of an x-ray.

Gazelle, a trade-in site for consumer electronics, said that Tallahassee led its "Top Ten Klutziest Cities" list. New Orleans was second. The ratings were based on the percentage of cellphones exchanged that were cracked, dented or water-damaged.

Customer comments

This from Steve Maurice, vice-president of the Martin County Conservation Club, Inc. "Thanks for promoting our event! On March 16, 80 to 90 kids assembled and took home 110 wren houses and 40 bluebird houses at the Fairmont Five Lakes Centre. In another annual project, club members assemble and paint wren/chickadee houses for first graders throughout Martin County. This spring, it was Fairmont Elementary's turn to get 135 houses to decorate, take home and learn by watching nesting activities."

Nature notes

I saw an opossum run over on the road. A car had hit it. Why did the chicken cross the road? To show the opossum it could be done. Opossums don't understand cars. They stop in the middle of a road to look at a speeding automobile. As Pogo Possum, in Walt Kelly's famed comic strip, said, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

The Virginia opossum, with 50 teeth, eats nearly anything. It has two litters of six to 20 each year. They have many babies so that some might avoid being hit by a Buick.


Donald Batt of Hartland asked what good boxelder bugs are. They have been numerous in homes. A dry summer and the opportunity to have an extra generation last year has made it possible for many of the bugs to look for rent-free housing over the winter.

Boxelder bugs can be a nuisance, but they don't bite people and are nearly harmless to property. When abundant, they can stain walls, curtains and other surfaces with their excrement.

The surviving boxelder bugs that overwintered inside buildings become active in the spring. They try to move outdoors but many remain trapped inside. They do not reproduce in homes. The boxelder bugs seen inside during winter and spring entered buildings in the fall.

Boxelder bugs are most abundant during hot, dry summers when followed by warm springs. During the summer, they live, feed and reproduce on trees, including boxelders, maples, ashes, and others. They feed on sap from their host plants, but do not cause significant damage.

As to their value, I think there are some creatures whose value is yet to be discovered by us. We are incapable of doing so in some cases. The value of most things can be difficult to determine and tends to be subjective. I find a beauty in a boxelder bug. That is easier than finding a way to eradicate them from the house.

Thanks for stopping by

"Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones, not the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings, not the great goals achieved. The real milestones are less prepossessing. They come to the door of memory unannounced, stray dogs that amble in, sniff around a bit and simply never leave. Our lives are measured by these." ~ Susan B. Anthony

"One has only to sit down in the woods or fields, or by the shore of the river or lake, and nearly everything of interest will come round to him - the birds, the animals, the insects; and presently, after his eye has got accustomed to the place, and to the light and shade, he will probably see some plant or flower that he had sought in vain for, and that is a pleasant surprise to him." ~ John Burroughs


©Al Batt 2013