Al Batt: Four-leaf clovers are rare because people keep picking them

Published 9:03 am Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

Would you call yourself a religious man?

Well, I’ve been to church only three times in the last 30 years.

Email newsletter signup

Why only three times?

Because each time I went, I got married

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’ve been told, “A camera never lies.” Cameras have learned how to lie. In a similar vein, why do so many people look surprised in their own selfies? The weatherman may be wrong half the time, but that’s nothing compared to the percentage of the time that a husband is wrong. Right at the top of my bucket list is to get a new 5-gallon pail, yellow in color.

My address has been changed to Soggy Bottom

I don’t live far from where I was born. My mother always said that nuts don’t fall far from the tree, so I guess I was destined to stay put. I remember one day as a boy when I put a message in a bottle and dropped it into the creek. The creek is what we called the Le Sueur River. I’d written my name, address and the date in pencil on a yellow envelope that a bill from the electric company had arrived in and placed it into the bottle. I asked that whoever found the bottle to let me know where it had been located. About eight years later, when I was in high school, a neighbor told me that he’d found that bottle not even a mile away from its origin. It didn’t get far and neither have I. I’d want it no other way.

One recent day, I held my hand out to check for rain. It was a palm before the storm. It poured. It rained cats and dogs. Rain fell in buckets and in every other cliché imaginable. I was as happy as a sword swallower with the hiccups. Over 5 inches fell in a hurry. Several more inches waited in the wings. My whole world became soggy. I battened down the hatches. A neighbor’s driveway washed out. I felt like Nick Nolte’s mug shot looks, but it could have been worse.

I visited the Hinckley Fire Museum. On Saturday, Sept. 1, 1894, a firestorm ravaged east central Minnesota, destroying the villages of Mission Creek, Pokegama, Hinckley, Miller, Sandstone and Partridge. I read and was told about a 4 1/2-mile high fire wall (I wonder how that was measured) and that the red glow was seen in Mason City, Iowa, more than 200 miles away. In four hours, the firestorm destroyed 480 square miles of pine forest and killed 418 people. More people died there than in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

On Saturday, Sept. 1, 1894, that area around Hinckley would have welcomed a downpour.

Here and there

I was driving around, speaking at things like the Annual Summit of the Association of Nature Center Administrators held in Sandstone, Southern Minnesota Land Expo in Blooming Prairie, Over the Back Fence in Lanesboro, Community Covenant Church in Huntley, Kernel Days in Wells, various fairs and many other locations. I put on a lot of miles every year. Why? Because I love my job. I’ll keep driving until the hubcaps fall off. I often listen to books on tape while heading down a highway. It gives me a brief respite from the politics of radio. I appreciate our election process, but it goes on much too long.

I’m an election judge. Proud to be one. When I went to vote during the past Primary Election, I discovered that my name had been removed from the voter registry. I’ve never missed voting from the time I was old enough to vote. The hubcaps hadn’t fallen off. A computer glitch had caused my name to be transferred to a voting precinct in Hennepin County. I filled out a new voter’s registration form and voted. I was proud to do so.

Ask Al

“How is snow created?” If you have ever owned a snow globe, you’d know that it’s created by earthquakes.

“What is the secret to buying a gift for a wife?” Find out what she likes and buy five of them.

“Why are four-leaf clovers so rare?” Because people keep picking them.

Nature notes

Toni Perschbacher of Albert Lea asked what leaves show fall color first. Sumac, poison ivy and Virginia creeper leaves show red, dogwood looks purple, and cottonwood, walnut and ash are yellow.

Meeting adjourned