Voles leave more visual evidence than my childhood

Published 7:46 am Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Echoes From the Loafers’ Club Meeting

It’s frightening.

What’s frightening?

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That sometimes when I open my mouth, my father’s words come out.

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: A rule of life is that only after you have parallel parked will the driver of the car directly in front or back of you pull away.

Mailbox miseries

Our mailbox was hit by a snowplow a few years ago. The good folks at the County Highway Department put up a new one without me asking.

The new mailbox worked well, but tended to rust. It rusted enough that the door fell off. I wired it back in place. That worked for a while. Then the wire broke. I replaced it. Then it broke again. I replaced it again. This went on for a long time. The door refused to remain closed.

My wife and I went to the hardware store. We purchased a mailbox nearly identical to the old one. We installed it, using the rusty screws from the old mailbox, as no screws, rusty or otherwise, were included with the new mailbox. A minor celebration followed.

The new mailbox looked nice.

The next morning, when I took some mail down to the box, I saw that the door of the new mailbox had fallen open.

Chauffeuring toothpaste

My wife and I spent time at a clinic recently. She went to the eye doctor to see about getting her arms shortened.

I had tests done. They involved an enema, x-rays and blood tests. Sounds like fun, huh? They went well and the results were everything I could have hoped for. I visited with the x-ray technician. “These won’t end up on Facebook, will they?” I said.

He laughed and assured me that they wouldn’t.

Not long after that, I followed my wife through a store. She pushed a shopping cart. I walked five paces behind, as is traditional for husbands. I wasn’t involved in the shopping process. I had but one duty, that being to wait by the cart when so instructed. My wife was hunting for some milk crates for storage. The store had none. My bride remembered the need for toothpaste. She picked up a tube and put it in the cart. She positioned the large shopping cart in line to check out. A big cart carrying a single tube of toothpaste.

Photos as rare as hen’s teeth

A friend, Del Boyken of Albert Lea, winters in Arizona. I recommended he stay in Minnesota in order to avoid heat exhaustion, heat stroke and heat rash. I’ll remain in the ice, snow and cold, but I’ll be worrying about him.

Alice Miller of Hartland spent 101 years in Minnesota. I attended her wake recently. There was a lovely display of family photos there, including many black-and-white ones. Alice had told her family that there wouldn’t be many photos of her young years. That was because she wasn’t the firstborn. The need to take photos of offspring lessens with each additional child joining the family. Alice was right. There were several baby photos of her and then no images until she was 19.

I understood. I’m the baby of the family. There aren’t many photos documenting my life in the family photo albums. I mentioned this to my mother. She told me that they had misplaced the camera shortly after my birth. She told me to look at the photos of my brother Donald, saying that we looked much alike as children.

Nature notes

I saw a field mouse on the lawn. My family called a meadow vole a field mouse when I was a boy, so I do the same. Many people refer to them as meadow mice. The voles are larger than the deer mice, house mice and white-footed mice that are commonly seen.

Voles have shorter tails than those mice and small ears. They are the “potato chips of the prairie” as they come in the perfect snacking size for owls, hawks, weasels, foxes and other predators.

Voles aren’t often found in dwellings. The mice mentioned earlier are happy to take up residence in houses. The presence of voles isn’t always noticed until the snow melts in late winter or early spring, when their grassy trails are laid bare on lawns and damage to small trees and shrubs done by their chewing becomes evident. Their appetites concern me, but I try to remember that “vole” has all that is needed for “love.”

Meeting adjourned

Take advantage of every chance to be kind.