Al Batt: Lives measured in storms

Published 6:16 am Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

Do you know what time it is?

No, I don’t.

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It’s 8:15.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his driveway, thoughts occur to me, such as: It was one of those days in which I had to run to stand still. I don’t take vacations. I take trips. Some are endurance tests. Most of my trips involve weight loss and/or blisters. A little bit of bad weather can go a long way. It’s like chewing on tinfoil. I visited with a Missouri truck driver in LeMars, Iowa, the “Ice Cream Capital of the World.” The weather was colder than necessary and teetering on the edge of becoming a blizzard. The truck driver said, “Humans should never have moved this far away from the equator.”

We laughed. Our lives are measured in storms, but defined by how we deal with them.

Some miles later

I stopped to use a stalled convenience at a convenience store. I won’t say what state it was in, but there was a Huskers wastebasket in a very clean restroom. I was resting there when a small child crawled under the door of the stall. I couldn’t tell by the clothing if my visitor was a boy or girl. We faced off. I thought perhaps the child was experiencing emergency conditions in a restroom with only one throne room. “Do you need to go?” I asked, mustering as much dignity as I could in my position.

“No” was the reply. The youngster crawled back out. I heard a man’s voice chastise the youngster, “Don’t ever do that again.”

They left the restroom without running any water. In their haste to leave, they had neglected to wash their hands. It wasn’t a clean getaway. The kid needed a shower. I exited the stall, happily noting there was no line waiting to use it. I washed my hands twice before purchasing something I’d hoped would justify the use of the necessary.

Pontificating along the Potomac River

I’d been booked to speak in Washington, D.C. The folks who hired me had sent me a things-to-see DVD about D.C. I walked around Washington, D.C., in a night as dark as a night bathed in artificial light could be. The rain poured down — most of it fell on me. I wore a suit and tie. I had no umbrella. I seldom do. I smelled like a wet dog as I boarded a subway train (Metro) to get from here to there. My dress shoes had become slippery with the water. That turned my journey into a giant slip and slide, allowing me to lurch forward with the train’s movement and headbutt a seated passenger, dislodging his mammoth headphones in the process. I apologized profusely while other riders pretended not to watch. It knocked me so goofy, I thought I was a member of Congress.

Al Batt’s brain cramps

Horror movies frighten me so much, I can’t watch them. Bad acting is that scary.

If you haven’t felt like the dumbest person in a room, you are just being dumb.

I watched a squirrel run from one side of the road to the other, then change its mind and scurry back to where it had started. It did all of this on a busy street. That’s the reason why squirrels don’t make good school crossing guards.

Nature notes

I know that the variability of weather doesn’t disprove a trend, but I’m relieved that winter’s frosty veil has lifted or at least its frigid grip has loosened. Lawnmowers have been moved to the show floor and snow blowers moved to the back room. Deer coats have lightened in color and overly cautious people shower in DEET. It becomes so windy, trees flower in plastic shopping bags.

I watched turkey vultures float on air. No flapping, no hurry. These peaceable recyclers rock in a teetering flight with limited wingbeats. I look for the silver lining in everything. Vulture wings offer silver linings to a birder.

A white-breasted nuthatch held a beakful of grass near a tree cavity. It was a male trying to interest a prospective mate in a nest site. White-throated sparrows delighted me by whistling, “Old Sven Peterson, Peterson, Peterson.”

While doing yardwork, I found a number of native lady beetles. They were the ladybugs of my childhood, often seen on sweatshirts, aprons or cookbooks. Dandelions bloomed. They aren’t the best nutrition for honeybees, but are still valuable. Think of them as a snack food for bees. Dandelions are the yellow highlighters of spring.

Meeting adjourned

It’s an act of kindness to forgive yourself.