For farmers, even retiring doesn’t end lifelong habitPublished 10:45am Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting
“I’d like a hamburger, please.”
“What would you like on it?”
“I’d like $100 bills, but I’d take pickles, ketchup, and mustard.”
1. People who eat lutefisk live longer than those people who eat nothing.
2. We have duct tape to remind us that not everything needs to be fixed.
3. To not spend time polishing the underside of a car.
Once a farmer …
My father was a farmer. He attended both Farm Bureau and Farmers Union meetings. He didn’t agree with either organization. My mother explained it by saying that farmers were an independent lot.
When Dad was forced to retire, it wasn’t easy for him. He advised me that a man should never retire from something. He should retire to something. A friend, C.E. Vollum of Albert Lea, is fond of telling me that he is like morning breath. He never goes away completely. The urge to do a job you enjoyed is the same way. It is easier to finish one day before starting the next when you are busy. Because an illness left my father moving about like a tick in tar, his job was reduced to little more than walking to the end of the drive to pick up his mailbox money. He wished he could do more, but added, “If wishes were horses, we’d all be riding one.”
“What’s this stain on the menu?” I wondered silently.
I tried to wipe it away. It turned out to be a speck on my eyeglasses.
There is a reason I was awarded an honorary doctorate in doofiness from my now defunct grade school.
The friendly waitress came by while I was visiting with a tablemate. She freshened my cup of coffee. That was nice of her. Unfortunately, I was drinking tea.
I didn’t see her deed, so I took a sip of the mixture. It surprised me. It wasn’t good. The face I made would have made milk come out of John Mickelson’s nose. That would be true only if John had had been seated at my table and had been drinking milk, of course. John — a classmate, a good friend, and a swell guy — was the target of every class clown because he not only laughed well, he blushed. My class consisted nearly entirely of class clowns who worried that the chemistry lab was so close to the lunchroom. Fortunately, the nurse’s office wasn’t far either. We waited until John had taken a drink of milk at lunch. Then we’d do something stupid, which was funnier than doing something funny. John laughed and this caused milk to come out of his nose. It was worth seeing.
Milk has never come from my nose. I guess that I’m laugh-nose intolerant.
Morning either way
I was speaking in Gulf Shores, Ala. I went birding each morning. The white sand, warm weather and birds made for delightful walks. One dawn, I walked by a table situated outside a large hotel and encountered a man enjoying an adult beverage. He asked me what I was doing. I told him I was looking at birds. He grimaced and said, “Awfully early in the morning for that kind of thing, isn’t it?”
“A birdie with a yellow bill, hopped upon my window sill, cocked his shining eye and said, ‘Ain’t you ‘shamed, you sleepyhead!’”
Robert Louis Stevenson wrote those words and he could have been describing the European starling. The dark bill that the starling sports in the winter turns yellow in the spring.
On a sunny winter day, look at the base of a tree where the snow has melted enough to expose fallen leaves. If you see something that looks like pepper sprinkled on the snow, those specks are tiny insects called snow fleas. They feed on decayed plant material or sap. They jump like fleas, but aren’t fleas. They are springtails. Two tails on its rear are tucked underneath the belly and held in place by hooks. To move, the springtail releases its spring-loaded tails, which slap the snow, and send the snow flea flying into the air.