Al Batt: Be more thankful today than yesterday

Published 6:40 am Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

You dropped your phone.

I know.

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Aren’t you going to pick it up?

I’ve put it on my list of things to do.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his driveway, thoughts occur to me, such as: I had a dentist’s appointment right after I’d spoken at a luncheon. The dessert had been bread pudding. I know bread pudding. I like bread pudding. I grew up eating bread pudding. My mother made it with stale bread, milk, eggs and butter. We considered it health food. I ate the bread pudding and had no time to brush my teeth. At least I didn’t eat garlic, marshmallows and Cheetos. As the hygienist was about to clean my teeth, I asked her to save any bread pudding she came across so I could eat it later. She might have smiled.

Another day

I try to be more thankful today than I was yesterday. That isn’t much of a challenge for me. A young woman named Kaitlyn was in a class I taught at the College of St. Benedict. She told me that she had a goldfish named Sushi. I’m guessing it was a nervous fish. Fairgoers win fish in plastic bags by finding success in a carnival game. Not all of the fish make it home and those that do are mostly short-lived. I reminded myself that I wasn’t a carnival’s prize fish. I’m thankful for that. I need to do that occasionally to keep my spirits properly buoyed. On my way home to my domicile after spending a grand day with remarkable students, I heard on the radio that 151,600 people die each day — 7,452 in the U.S. Uffda! There were no numbers given for goldfish. Life is good.

The not-so-wide

world of sports

The Midwest can be hard on spring sports. Rain, snow and cold lead to postponements. It’d be a cool night, so I dressed appropriately. A granddaughter played for the New Ulm Eagles who faced defending state softball champion Faribault and a pitcher with a regular season ERA of 0.30. I donned socks, T-shirt, hat and hoodie proclaiming my support of the Eagles. My wife wore three items of clothing displaying the team name and colors. Between us, we wore seven pieces of New Ulm clothing. New Ulm won 7-0. Seven Eagle items and seven runs. That coincidence made for smiles enough to melt a two-story igloo.

Nature notes

I was out there with my peeps. The yard was whistling — peewee, oriole, chickadee and cardinal. Tyrannus tyrannus, the eastern kingbird, is royalty. Henry David Thoreau wrote, “I see at a distance a kingbird or blackbird pursuing a crow lower down a hill, like a satellite revolving around a black planet.” Known for its pugnacious attitude and fearless defense of territory, some Native Americans called the kingbird “little chief.” A great crested flycatcher burped and called me a creep. That’s what the bird’s call sounds like to me.

The emerald ash borer is coming. It seemed odd that I’d think of that as I pulled endless ash seedlings from the yard. The borer is a killer of green, white, black, blue, pumpkin, Marshall seedless, Autumn Purple and Summit ash trees. Mountain ash isn’t related to those trees and the insect doesn’t attack it.

Dame’s rocket bloomed in profusion and is confused for a native phlox. Phlox has five-petaled flowers and dame’s rocket has four. I discovered a red squirrel’s midden, an endless accumulation of cones that the squirrel uses for food. The animal scolded me severely for having the gall to look upon its treasure pile.

As I walked beside a lake, I found the ground feathered with cedar waxwings feeding on midges. The midges hummed in flight, making a frightening mosquito-like sound. Had they been mosquitoes, I’d have been a goner. The male midges have feathery antennae. During Game 2 of the 2007 American League Division Series, the Cleveland Indians played the New York Yankees. Midges took the mound to bug Joba Chamberlin, the Yankee pitcher. By the time the Indians took the field, the midges were gone. The Tribe had been trailing before the midges invaded. Cleveland won that game and the series.

I heard the call of a wood thrush. It sang a flutelike “Frit-O-Lay.” It was thrilling to hear and reminded me why I’d fallen in love with birds.

Meeting adjourned

“I’m sometimes asked ‘Why do you spend so much of your time and money talking about kindness to animals when there is so much cruelty to men?’ I answer: ‘I am working at the roots.’”

— George T. Angell