Al Batt: Volumes of winter

Published 8:16 am Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

My parakeet has started talking.

What does it say?

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I don’t know. I don’t speak parakeet.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his driveway, thoughts occur to me, such as: By the time I got around to bewaring the Ides of March, it was April. On one hand, we had spring. On the other hand, brass knuckles. I gauge the severity of a winter by how many winters it has in it. Spring and winter had been two volumes of the same book. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but it didn’t seem like it when I joined many automobiles on a highway as we waited for wreckers and their flashing lights to pull cars from the ditches after a winter storm. I irritated myself by asking “Are we there yet?” constantly. It had been a stressful week. I was worried because I’d heard on the radio that I had a one in 300 trillion chance of being struck by a chunk of a Chinese space station and I was trying to develop trust with the new alarm clock. Then I saw a fellow beating up a snowman. Welcome to normal.

Lynx have no love handles

The Minnesota Lynx WNBA team is the most successful pro team in the state. I’d never seen them play until a hospital stay gave me the time and a TV capable of seeing their games. I enjoyed watching them. I played basketball for many years. It was fun and good exercise. I retired after most of my bucketball friends had retired and when it began to hurt. You’re only as old as you feel—the day after playing basketball. I learned that hooping it up had kept the love handles at bay. Love handles rushed in where basketball feared to tread. I’m happy when I look in the mirror and I’m still there.

An illness, operations and hospital stays eliminated the love handles, but it’s difficult to stop a determined love handle. Walking and a diminished appetite have had little impact on them.

Developing a sense of Yuma

I spoke in Yuma, Arizona, located in the southwest corner of the state. I spent time along the Colorado River. The irrigation from this river allows Yuma County to be third in the nation in vegetable production even though it receives only 3 inches of annual rainfall. I was told that Yuma provides 95 percent of the country’s fresh vegetables produced from November through March. I visited with a farmer there who was getting nine cuttings of alfalfa per year. The five C’s of Arizona are copper, cattle, cotton, citrus and climate. I added a sixth C. Caliente, because climate isn’t descriptive. Being close to the sun, it was hot, but as many residents were fond of telling me, it was a dry heat. In July 1995, the thermometer set the record high for Yuma at 124°. The record for August is 120° and September is 123°. The average high in July is 107°. Around 91 percent of the daylight hours there are sunny.

I visited Imperial Sand Dunes and Yuma Territorial Prison Museum, both popular sites for movies such as: “The Outlaw” directed by Howard Hughes and starring Jane Russell, “Badlands” with Alan Ladd and Ernest Borgnine, “3:10 to Yuma” featuring Glen Ford and “Red River Valley” starring Gene Autry. I went to West Wetlands Park to see the burrowing owls. These owls don’t do any excavating, so artificial burrows made from PVC pipes had been provided for them.

I watched burrowing owls appearing to nod a greeting outside their burrow entrance. A cowboy, who might have been going for the John Wayne look, but didn’t call me Pilgrim, told me they were “howdy owls.”

Nature notes

Golden eagles and bald eagles are about the same size. Golden eagles typically soar or glide with wings lifted into a slight V and their wingtip feathers spread like fingers. They capture prey on or near the ground that they locate by soaring, flying low or hunting from a perch. Bald eagles are more common, widespread and gregarious than golden eagles. They have larger heads and soar with their wings flat across, like a board. Adult golden eagles lack the white mottling of immature bald eagles and the white heads and tails of adult bald eagles. Young golden eagles often have white patches under the wing and at the base of the tail, but it’s always more clearly defined than the white mottling on the body and wings of immature bald eagles.

Meeting adjourned

“Kindness is always fashionable.” -Amelia Barr