Al Batt: Cold makes the wet wetter

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

The best part of my day might be when I first open my eyes.

Because you have the whole day ahead of you?

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No, because I haven’t had time to mess anything up yet.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me, such as: I had an old car with a malfunctioning speedometer that I replaced it with a calendar. A pedometer study of an Old Order Amish community in Canada showed that their average man walked 18,000 steps per day and the average woman logged 14,000 steps per day.

My old car with the calendar for a speedometer stalled a lot. I didn’t need a pedometer to know I walked a lot. I’m trying to walk more today. My “check health” light came on recently and I headed to the clinic. I try not to talk about health concerns, but it’s nigh impossible. Nice people say, “I’m sorry you’re feeling poorly.”

What some nice people want to say is, “Is there anything I could do to get you to shut about it?”

If you’re headed south, expect delays

The weather had been less than genial. It was cold and wet. Cold makes the wet wetter. Early cold and snow leads to a spike in thermal Halloween costume sales. It snowed, sleeted or rained for 290 miles of my drive. It stopped when I turned onto the road I live along. It was an exceedingly pleasant homecoming. I’ve had people tell me of crossroads, county lines and other locations where the weather changes – usually where a storm regularly abates or worsens. My road had never been one of those. I hope it’s a pattern that turns one small roadway into a banana belt.

It wasn’t a giant shopping mall either

Years before GPS, Google or Siri were commonplace, I’d spoken in Charleston, West Virginia. A friend, who wasn’t from the area, offered to drive me to Yeager Airport. I thought that would be a simple thing for two guys like us. After all, I could find myself in the dark and he found his car in a crowded parking lot. To make it even easier, West Virginia, like South Dakota, North Dakota, South Carolina, North Carolina and East California, had its own helpful state direction.

He took a right turn in the wrong place or a wrong turn in the right place. We did a bit of directionless moseying before deciding to stop and ask for directions. He pulled alongside a pedestrian and asked if he knew how to get to the airport.

“This isn’t it,” the man told us.

We knew that. I wanted to tell my friend, the driver, “I told you so. I said this wasn’t the airport.” But I didn’t.

Nature notes

I stood in the heavy rain. Another birder, with rain flowing down from the brim of his cap, looked at his cellphone screen and said, “My weather app says it might rain.” That’s an app worth having.

The first monarch butterflies arrive at their winter home in Mexico by the first of November. The Purépecha Indians called them harvester butterflies, because they appeared at corn harvest. The Mexican holiday Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) occurs when the monarchs appear. According to traditional belief, the monarchs are the souls of ancestors who return to earth for an annual visit.

Dark-eyed juncos are summer residents in Minnesota in the coniferous forests of the northeast and north-central regions. They are called “snowbirds” because people believe their return from their northern breeding grounds foretells the return of cold and snowy weather. Another source of the nickname is the junco’s white belly and gray back, which has been described as “leaden skies above, snow below.” A New Hampshire study on the foraging habitats of the juncos found they spent 65 percent of their time on the ground, 20 percent in shrubs, 16 percent in saplings or low trees, and were never observed in the canopy of large trees. Adults, especially females, tend to migrate earlier and farther. For example, winter junco flocks are 20 percent female in Michigan and 72 percent female in Alabama.

Walter Lantz, the creator of Woody Woodpecker, wrote that while he and his wife, Grace, honeymooned in a California cabin, an acorn woodpecker entertained them. Grace said to Walter, “Why don’t you make him into a character?” Woody the Woodpecker was born.

Meeting adjourned

“Life is just a short walk from the cradle to the grave and it sure behooves us to be kind to one another along the way.“ –Alice Childress