Shoveling better than it used to be

Published 9:48 am Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting:

“I’m going out to shovel the walk.”

“It hasn’t snowed yet.”

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“I know. I want to be finished before it does.”

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: No matter what kind of breakfast cereal you prefer, someone will tell you that another one is better.

The Ghost of Christmas Past

I didn’t get coal in my Christmas stocking this year. I got coleslaw instead. At this time of year when we discover that the worst views of the Christmas season are seen through the windows of billing envelopes and that winter is the gift that keeps on giving, I hope that the new year brings you happiness beyond measure.

Shoveling when nature calls

I was shoveling snow. We’d been getting a lot of the white stuff. It seems that each winter is the winter of all winters. I have shoveled much snow in my life, but this time, I put the shovel down for a moment and gave thanks for indoor toilets. I grew up with an outhouse. When it snowed, I had to shovel a path to the outhouse. I no longer need to do that task and I am grateful.

Touring the fire hall

I took a tour of a fire hall. It was fascinating and I’m very appreciative of firefighters. They are heroes. I looked at a pole that some firemen slide down when a fire alarm sounds. The gentleman giving the tour told me that one fireman had broken his arm sliding down the pole and another had broken a leg. He added that a third man was in such a rush that he slid down the pole headfirst and slammed his head against the floor. I knew why the man descended that way. He didn’t want to break an arm or a leg.

We call the wind Ole

People ask why there is a large wind farm near my home. The 397-foot tall (to the tip of the blade) wind turbines are here because it is windy here. Our snow is nothing more than ammunition for the wind. The wind seldom softens. People have to pack on a few extra pounds if they have any hopes of ever walking against the wind. Both the weather and those who live near the wind farm could be described as windy. That’s why our weather vanes are bent, as are the ears of visitors.


I drove to the Bell Museum at the University of Minnesota. A friend from Duluth, Kim Eckert, had asked if I would do a little thing at the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union’s (MOU) Paper Session—an annual presentation of avian research. The weather was far from perfect. No surprise there. It was December in Minnesota. Apparently, God’s plan for me involves bad weather. Driving is what gives winter a bad name. To make things even worse, there were other cars on the road. I was passed by four black cars in a row—two Fords, a Toyota, and a Buick. A fifth was prepared to pass me when I exited and foiled its attempt. I don’t know if that makes it worthy of a conspiracy theory, as I didn’t see any black helicopters. I was steadfast in my journey. I felt obligated. I said that I would be there and I would be there.

Kim had tricked me. Upon reaching the Bell Museum, I learned that I didn’t need to do anything but receive an award. My wife knew about it for months and didn’t spill the beans. I was surprised with the Thomas Sadler Roberts Award for outstanding contributions to Minnesota ornithology/birding over a period of years. It’s an honor I shall treasure. It made all the miles, early and long hours, bus tours, programs, field trips, lack of sleep, radio shows, TV programs, etc. even more meaningful.

Meeting adjourned

Life can be a hard bed. Kindness provides a soft pillow.