Al Batt: Virginia opossum has been in Minnesota for about 100 years

Published 10:37 am Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Echoes from the Loafers Club Meeting:

I don’t know the meaning of the word “quit.”

Got fired again, huh?

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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: Whenever I say, “I think I’ve forgotten something,” I am right.

The cafe chronicles

There was a plethora of playful ribbing at the table of infinite knowledge. Some might refer to it as bovine excrement. No one was hesitant about expressing an opinion on matters of which they knew nothing. One thing that could not be denied is that we were the loneliest group of lighthouse keepers in southern Minnesota.

Old Man McGinty, the youngest Old Man McGinty ever, told me he was working the second shift. By that, he meant that his wife had been married before and considered McGinty a rescue. He added that he was 90 years old. “What I wouldn’t give to be 89 again,” he said. He added that he’d just had a brain operation and he had half a mind to sue the surgeon.

Weasel said that his father, who is retired and sets his alarm clock by the week, had gotten a speeding ticket while trying to get to his destination before he forgot where he was going.

My contribution was the story of how I had recently attended a friend’s funeral. He had been a ventriloquist — and a very good one. He was so good that his dummy gave the eulogy.

The waitress pointed at the menu on the wall and told us we couldn’t have the special until we told her what made her special.

She put up with us. That made her special.

I was among the pelicans in the Pelican State

I landed at the airport in Lafayette, Louisiana. Technically, the airplane landed, but I was shoehorned into one of its seats. I’d spent most of the flight searching for change under my seat cushion that could be used as a flotation device in the unlikely event of a water landing. Douglas Adams wrote, “There is an art, or rather a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”

I was in Louisiana for a job. A banner at the airport proclaimed Lafayette to be the happiest city in the country. That was based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that were adjusted for certain socioeconomic factors. The top five happiest cities were all from Louisiana. Rochester, Minnesota was sixth. New York City was the unhappiest.

I dragged my battered bag, filled with miles, to the car rental counter. While I waited, a fellow asked me where I was from. I told him. I asked where he called home. He answered that he was from Lafayette. I asked if everyone who lived there was happy.

“Everyone but me,” he said.

I asked no more questions of the man.

Measure you later, alligator

I was working in Morgan City, the shrimp and petroleum capital of the world. It’s an area of southern Louisiana where a TV show called “Swamp People” is filmed for the History Channel.

I traveled a short distance by car to Terrebonne Parish (a parish is similar to a county) where I entered the watery world of the Atchafalaya Basin, floating on a bayou — the sluggish, swampy tributary of a river. I was in a small boat, but not a pirogue, which was originally carved from a hollow log and usually poled. The boat’s owner played a homemade accordion and guitar while singing Creole songs. He’d been in KIA TV commercials. He told me that the number of inches from an alligator’s nose to its eyes equaled the number of feet long that the gator was. My policy has always been to not measure alligators and I adhere to that good policy.

Nature notes

“I saw an opossum in my yard. Are they supposed to be here?” The Virginia opossum has been in southern Minnesota for about 100 years, but its expansion into the state’s metro and central areas is more recent. Why did the chicken cross the road? To show the opossum that it could be done.