Al Batt: My diet beets your diet

Published 7:29 am Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

I’m on one of those diets where I can eat all the beets I want.

How’s that going for you?

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I’ve already eaten all the beets I want to eat.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor, named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me, such as: I saw a man standing and holding a watermelon in the middle of a parking lot. I figured he was waiting for his wife to drive their car closer to the melon, but there might have been more to the story. I wanted to walk over and thump the watermelon. As I’ve perused the watermelon sections of some of the finest grocery stores while looking for a melon heavy for its size, strangers have sworn they know when a watermelon is ripe by rapping it with a favorite knuckle. They listen for a deep, hollow sound that tells them the melon is ripe. One wise fellow told me if a melon sounds like he’s thumping his head, it’s not ripe. If it sounds as if he were thumping his stomach, it’s overripe, and if it sounds like he’s thumping his chest, it’s good. Mark Twain said when one has tasted a watermelon, he knows what the angels eat. Once it’s detached from the vine, a watermelon won’t continue to ripen.

Happy anniversary to my bride

I worked at the Steele County Free Fair as I do each year. The fair had an attendance of 322,347 this year, up from 313,347 in 2018. There were over 100 food vendors. I was pleased to walk the fairgrounds without incurring injury.

I’d recently lost a bit of flesh on my shin. It was due to a minor accident while cutting down a tree at home. The tree bit me. It wasn’t a frameable moment. The injury was slow in mending because I kept bumping it. Time wounds all heals. It was a trauma tattoo. Scars and stories begin with bad ideas.

I’m a man. We have many bad ideas. We have fewer good ideas, but we do have them. My best idea was marrying Gail. Happy anniversary to the best part of me. It has been a wonderful 50-year conversation seasoned with magic. The only secret I can share with others is to boast about your spouse.

In local news

See Food Restaurant opens. This week’s special: All the food you can look at for $3.

Volunteers are sprucing up the town. Ash trees are being replaced with spruce.

The Jigsaw Puzzle Solvers’ Club tries to find a pieceful solution.

A traveling man

I visited Madison County in Iowa. John Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison in Winterset. I visited the Museum bearing his name. The Duke said, “I would like to be remembered, well, the Mexicans have a phrase, ‘Feo fuerte y formal.’ Which means he was ugly, strong and had dignity.”

I ate John Wayne chili that was mostly beef with no beans at the Northside Cafe. The bestselling book, “The Bridges of Madison County” by Iowa-born author Robert James Waller was made into a film starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep. I hate to ruin a beautiful moment by picking favorites, but I enjoyed the six covered bridges of Madison County more than either the book or the movie.

Nature notes

I meandered past some boxelder trees. Sometimes called an ash-leafed maple or a Manitoba maple, the trees produce winged seeds called samaras that mature in late summer. A boxelder is the hypochondriac of trees. It appears to be dying, but never gets around to it.

Jerusalem artichokes showed yellow flowers. It’s a native, perennial sunflower. We don’t have kudzu here — wild cucumber, wild grapes and Virginia creeper do its kind of work. Riverbank grape (wild grape) is a native perennial with a possible 75-foot vine and Virginia creeper is another native perennial with a vine reaching up to 90 feet in length. They are kinder than kudzu, which has a perennial vine reaching 100 feet. A native to Asia, it was introduced to this country to prevent soil erosion, feed cattle and shade porches. Once established, it can grow 60 feet in a growing season.

A turkey vulture soared overhead, likely attracted to the dead skunk on the road. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology said this about a bird often incorrectly called a “buzzard”: “They are deft foragers, targeting the softest bits first and are even known to leave aside the scent glands of dead skunks.”

Meeting adjourned

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” – Amelia Earhart