Al Batt: A great name for a band

Published 6:19 am Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

It’s as cold as ice one day, then ambition-melting hot the next.

That’s the way it is.

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Why do we have to have so many changes of the seasons?

It’s the weather’s way of mocking us.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me, such as: I spoke at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park and visited with many of the good folks in attendance after I’d concluded my bloviation. They shared their stories with me. One man said that when he was a teenager, he and his brother borrowed their father’s car. They smoked a cigar while motoring down the road. Mistakes happened and the backseat started on fire. Nerstrand had a junkyard and the boys managed to find a replacement backseat that fit into the car. They installed it and it looked good except for one thing. It didn’t match the front seat. It was a different color. Their father had a serious talk with them. He’d noticed the mismatched seat quickly. The old man was much smarter than his sons had thought.

It’s nice to see people when they are still alive

  Ken Burns’ recent film documentary on country music that aired on PBS inspired a group of us to discuss live music we’ve enjoyed. My wife and I saw B.B. King and Etta James in concert. It was mighty good. A woman said she liked jazz and saw Dave Brubeck. “That was when he was alive,” she added.

I suspected that had been the case.

Life wasn’t all cows and plows

We used to swing from a long rope hanging down from the peak of the roof inside the barn’s giant haymow. The word “haymow” is a memory-producing generator. We’d grab the rope and jump from a stack of hay bales. We’d yell like Tarzan swinging on a vine and let go when it was safe to drop into a welcoming pile of loose hay. A city cousin, who had recently become a Tarzan in training, asked a reasonable question. “When do you replace this rope?”

“Whenever it breaks,” I answered thoughtfully.

Niagara Cave

My wife and I joined good friends in taking a hike into Niagara Cave near Harmony, Minnesota. We had superb guides, Aaron and Amy Bishop, who were enthusiastic and informative. Each time I set foot in a cave, I think of mnemonics I learned in school to help me tell which one is a stalactite and which one is a stalagmite. When mites crawl up, they pull their tights down. Stalactites hold tight to the ceiling. Stalagmites might grow to meet them.

This large limestone cave was discovered in 1924 when three pigs fell 75 feet into a sinkhole. I’m not sure if they were the Three Little Pigs, but they certainly found a home that the Big Bad Wolf wouldn’t be capable of blowing down. We took a mile-long journey into a cave 200 feet beneath the surface where the temperature was stuck at 48 degrees. The ceiling was as high as 100 feet and there was an impressive, 60-foot underground waterfall which inspired the Cave’s name. That’s right, it was named after Niagara Falls. I learned about cave bacon (a rock formation officially known as layered flowerstone) and the fossils of fisherites (a great name for a band). As we walked deeper into the cave, fossils were signs indicating we were going back into history. The cave has a wedding chapel where over 400 weddings have been performed. I find wonderment wherever I go and Niagara Cave is heaped in wonder.

Nature notes

The Weed Science Society of America surveyed weed scientists across North America to find out which weeds were most common in farm fields. They are: 1. Common lambsquarters 2. Foxtail 3. Morning glory 4. Palmer amaranth 5. Redroot pigweed 6. Waterhemp 7. Horseweed 8. Common ragweed 9. Barnyardgrass 10. Velvetleaf.

Horns look like daggers (sometimes twisted) and antlers resemble branches with multiple points. Bovids (sheep, goats, cows, bison) have horns. Cervids (deer, elk, moose, caribou) have antlers. Horns are made of keratin as our fingernails are. Antlers are made of bone and are shed annually. Horns usually grow on both sexes; antlers are typically found only on males. Female caribou are an exception.

Frost is the coating of ice crystals forming on plants when a freeze occurs and the air is loaded with water vapor. A killing frost or hard frost comes when the temperature drops below 28 degrees.

Meeting adjourned

It’s easy to be kind. If someone drops something, pick it up for them.