Al Batt: Winter doesn’t come here to make friends

Published 7:45 am Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

I’ve had a dream for years.

What is it?

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To lose 10 pounds.

Why don’t you do it?

I couldn’t live without a dream.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his driveway, thoughts occur to me, such as: We complain about the weather as if we don’t get winter each year. The answer was blowing in the wind. It was snow. Most of the things I was supposed to do had been postponed. The calendar had been replaced with let’s-see-what-happens-now weather. The weather was dismal, a real blowhard. The wind chill factor was at play. It wasn’t the coldest day ever, but it was cold enough. If you have a thermometer, you’d better have a sense of humor. Despite the natural nastiness, I drove down the icy roads to get to a medical appointment. I was behind someone driving 30 mph. Had it been a Buick, I wouldn’t have thought much about its slow movement. I’d have figured it moved at that speed even in the summer. But it was a tractor-trailer rig burning up the road at that speed. That’s a warning hard to ignore. I followed it for miles.

I needed a Bath

I like to walk in Bath. Bath is a Minnesota ghost town. It existed as a thriving village from 1857 to 1963. The last resident of Bath read that most accidents occur within 2 miles of home, so he moved somewhere safer. Only the cemetery survives. The average age of Bath is dead. I walk at that cemetery — St. Aidan.

I stopped by the grave of William Shea, who was born in Dingle, County Kerry in Ireland in 1775. He died in 1882 without being confined to his bed for a single day. He probably wasn’t an organ donor, but he lived 107 years at a time when human parts weren’t often replaced and it wasn’t easy to keep someone going by the use of the miracles of medicine. Shea was a teamster in Wellington’s Army and was at the battle of Waterloo before seeing the light and moving to Minnesota. He was meant to live where the population could be counted by asking a neighbor because he advised a son to never trust his business to strangers.

It was easier to live long then. Bacon, smoking and the sun were all good for you. And not all the germs had been discovered yet.

The cafe chronicles

I stopped at the Eat Around It Cafe. I wanted to see the new font in the alphabet soup. The Eat Around It Cafe is proud that its foods win every food fight. It’s where the healthy food option is water in a clean glass and the waitress asks for your next of kin before she takes your order. I didn’t make the mistake of ordering the diet special again. You don’t get any food with that special. You leave a generous tip and exit the cafe.

I try to be friends with the food and the weather, but winter doesn’t come here to make friends. A fellow Loafer had taken a tumble. Snow and its companion, ice, can lead to black and blue backsides. It’s nature’s autograph. The friendly waitress prescribed the best thing for bruises — mashed potatoes and gravy.

Nature notes

Red-tailed hawks adorned trees, fence posts and traffic signs. This beautiful raptor weighs around 3 pounds. Skittish small birds feeding along roadsides flew at the approach of my car. Starling bills turn yellow as a sign of an approaching spring. I soaked it all in as if I were a thirsty sponge.

I kept my eyes on the road, but recalled past encounters with nature.

I paddled the Missouri River in Montana. I yelled. My voice ricocheted back at me. It was an echo-friendly place.

I stayed in a cabin alongside a northern Minnesota lake where a pine kept me awake one night. It wasn’t the wind whistling through its boughs, it was its chewing. The pine was a porcupine. It was in a nearby tree chewing on twigs and bark. I’ve talked to people who said that porcupines had gnawed on their canoe paddles. I had the pleasure of petting a porcupine at a wildlife rehabilitation center in Alberta. I petted it carefully while telling it that I wasn’t a canoe paddle.

On a day of nature travel in both the present and the past, I’m thankful that February days warm the interiors of cars parked in the sun.

Meeting adjourned

These are the good old days. Celebrate by being kind.