Al Batt: The lard works in mysterious ways

Published 6:23 am Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

I’m feeling pretty fit.

Have you taken up exercising or acquired a fitness tracker?

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No, nothing that foolish. I removed the full-length mirror from my house.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me, such as: It was a good day. My socks were staying up. The cafe smelled like bacon, so I ordered bacon. I figured I might as well as I’d smell like it whether I ate any or not. I ate alone, but I felt connected. Not by my cellphone, but by the food, server, cook, farmers, chicken, pig, truckers and everyone and everything else that made my breakfast possible. I appreciate all. There I was at the corner of in the moment and reflection. I ate alone, but thought of my wife and hoped she was having a delightful day. I have a tough time believing I’ve been married for 50 years. My wife must have the same difficulty because she refers to our lengthy wedded bliss as the best four years of her life.

Scenes from a marriage

You’ve backed right into the cow tank.

I thought I had.

What were you thinking?

I was thinking I’d backed right into the cow tank.

Things full of life don’t live long enough 

A friend told me that his dog had died. The canine was a cute little thing. It wouldn’t have made much of a cattle dog, but it made a wonderful friend. I enjoy the company of dogs. They gladden hearts. The entire world could be mad at you, but your dog still thinks you are the best thing going. It’s a worthy goal to try to be what our dogs think we are. I thought of what Mary Carolyn Davies had written, “A good dog never dies. He always stays. He walks besides you on crisp autumn days when frost is on the fields and winter’s drawing near. His head is within our hand in his old way.”

I was a poor, wayfaring stranger

I told stories in Ohio. “Hang on Sloopy,” a major hit for The McCoys in 1965, is Ohio’s official rock song. In my free time, I went birding with some wonderful Amish men. Later, the wife of one gave me a large slice of sugar pie with its lard crust filled with butter, flour, milk, eggs and sugar. It was sinfully good. The lard works in mysterious ways.

Nature notes

Bonita Underbakke of Lanesboro and Rod Meyer of Mankato each asked the identity of a beautiful black and yellow spider that appears to be trying to write a novel in its web. It’s an Argiope (ar-JYE-o-pee) or black-and-yellow garden spider. It’s also called a yellow garden spider, a signature spider or writing spider. It’s an orb weaver. They are typically found in late summer in the center of large, roundish webs. The spider’s ample web often has an area in a zigzag pattern, called a stabilimentum, which resembles dental floss. The purpose for this is up for conjecture, but is thought to provide camouflage for the spider, attract flying insect prey by reflecting ultraviolet light or is a warning to birds to avoid the web. There is much folklore as to what the spider is trying to write. As with many spiders, the female is much larger than the male. She has a body measuring about an inch long and, including her legs, can be several inches in length.

“Where do wasps overwinter?” The only wasps that survive winter are the queens. The other wasps perish with the onset of cold weather. In the fall, the queens find refuge in protected sites, such as under a rock or tree bark. The wasps that survive the winter are fertilized queens that build new nests and colonies from scratch.

Rachel Depuydt of Eagle Lake asked what the difference was between a frog and a toad. They’re not easy to distinguish. Most frogs have long legs and smooth skins covered in mucus. Toads typically have shorter legs and rougher, thicker skins. Toads generally find their way into gardens and yards more than frogs. Frog eggs are found in a mass while toad eggs are in a chain. I was taught that all toads are frogs, but not all frogs are toads.

Karen Wright of Mankato asked what butterflies do in the rain. They try to avoid it. Butterflies hide when it rains — under large leaves, in tangled thickets, in dense vegetation, under rocks, in grass or bushes, or anywhere else that would intercept the raindrops.

Meeting adjourned

Be kind. People like those who can fake a smile.