Al Batt: Somewhere between 1 and 143 inches of snow

Published 6:17 am Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

I’m trying to eat healthy this year.

Good for you.

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Yes, I have a little lettuce on every double cheeseburger.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me, such as: Life is a road. Each day is a mile marker and a good reminder to slow down. I was on a driving tour of the great rest areas of America. I brought along enough foodstuffs from home that my car was a touring cafe. Even so, I asked about an eatery in a small-town gas station. One man recommended a restaurant, but another said their knives were more tender than their steaks.

I parked my car in a downtown hotel parking ramp in Chicago. Actually, I didn’t park it. A valet did that. It cost more to park the car than it did to drive it.

An Austin man told me he had two cats. He used masking tape to make a square on the floor. His cats sat in that taped square as if it were that dreaded cat trap, a cardboard box.

  I stopped in a coffee shop in Fayette, Iowa, where I enjoyed an Iowa sweet corn cookie. It was a sugar cookie as full of sweet corn as an Iowa summer.

I visited with a fellow in Montana who told me that he was from a town with a population of two. I’ve been to that kind of place. If you’ve ever taken a wrong turn off the freeway and lost your cell service, you might have been too. “I lied,” he said. “Make that a population of one. I’m out of town.”

The cafe chronicles

They were men who go anywhere and talk to whoever is there. One of them told me about a champion eater. I ate a side salad while considering Joey Chestnut who had eaten 74 Nathan’s hot dogs, buns and all, in 10 minutes to win an eating contest. He consumed 22,200 calories in the process. That’s fast eating. He must wear starting blocks on his elbows.

A checks mix

I’d planned on watching a granddaughter play basketball on TV, which was an iPad on my desk. I had paperwork to do and checks to write. I thought it would be easy to do that during commercial breaks and at halftime. It wasn’t. My mind stayed with the game and was intent on avoiding work. I messed up one check and I had only two checks to do. I’ve made a note to myself to never try to multitask with those two tasks again.

Those exciting days of yesteryear

Uncle Bill asked me, “Do you want a haircut or do you want them all cut?”

I didn’t need to reply. Uncle Bill always had more to say. Two great talkers can’t walk far together.

Mom couldn’t avoid kicking the hornet’s nest. She told Uncle Bill, “I want you to notice that Allen had two ears when I brought him in.”

Nature notes

I tell myself that winter is on my side, but it can be ornery. At least I don’t have to shovel the cold. Here at my field station in January, I turn to the birds as sunflowers turn to the sun. I try to notice things. It’s an expression of life and of hope. The crashing temperatures painted frost patterns resembling ghostly plants on the window glass.

I watched a handsome red-bellied woodpecker fly to a feeder. It was a male with a red crown and nape. The female has the red nape, but lacks the red crown. I saw a pair of critically acclaimed birds — cardinals. Each time I take a good look at a bird, I’m reminded why I’m a card-carrying birder.

A squirrel chattered at me the entire time I filled the feeders. Squirrels have a salty vocabulary. I enjoy squirrels even though they can be hard on feeders. It’s as the psalmist said, “Harden not your hearts.” I reckon that applies to all things including squirrels.

We’d received somewhere between 1 and 143 inches of snow — most of it parked illegally. It reminded me that Harmony became the Minnesota state annual precipitation record holder by receiving 60.21 inches in 2018. This proves that planning and hard work pay off. A downy woodpecker flew in as I was filling the feeder. I wondered if a downy finds winter weather a downer? I told it about Harmony’s record in hopes it might bring cheer, but the woodpecker wasn’t interested.

Meeting adjourned

We don’t have to agree on anything to be kind to one another.