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Al Batt: We’re all happy to see the world again

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Outdoor Meeting

My Uncle Pete put signs reading “87” all over his lawn.

Why did he do that?

He’s beginning to show his age.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor, named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me, such as: Gone. That’s where I was for years. Work was on the road. “Where is Al now?” people frequently asked my wife. Judy Garland could change her lyrics in “Over the Rainbow” from “Away above the chimney tops, that’s where you’ll find me” to “Home, that’s where you’ll find me.” That’s where I am. Tom Jones sang, “The Green, Green Grass of Home.” June is the month of lawn mowing. What’s green and has wheels? Grass. I lied about the wheels. Mowing grass isn’t a cash crop for me. If it were, I might enjoy mowing. June is like a slow starter at a traffic light. What shade of green are you waiting for? In June, all the variations of green are somewhere. It’s a tantalizing mixture. The garden has once again become a test kitchen to see what rabbits will eat. They are enjoying eating marigolds again this year.

Sometimes I wonder whose side my GPS is on. “Make a U-turn.” the female voice said sternly. I was in my garage. I grumbled, but I didn’t lash out. She knows where I live.

I do walk regularly on the trails of a state park where I volunteered for years. I listened to a barred owl call there, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?” Everything was nearly copacetic when I was brutally attacked by a mosquito.

Back at home, Holey hostas! Hailstones larger than golf balls. A beautiful country church had its steeple crash to the ground during the storm. The steeple was a reference point in a flat land. My wife headed out to check on relatives from a social distance. I stayed home to survey the damage and make proper adjustments. I carried sticks to brush piles and tried to count the six fox squirrels released at our place by the good folks at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Counting adopted squirrels is more difficult than herding cats.

The hail clipped spruce tips. A guy I know in Haines, Alaska, could make spruce tip beer from them. The garden took a beating from hail and rabbits. We plucked radishes. Radish sandwiches calm the peckish.

I filled battered bird feeders with bird fuel. I worried about the nesting birds — catbird, thrasher, robin, cardinal, grosbeak, chipping sparrow and more. I figured the cavity nesters such as the woodpeckers and kestrels weathered well.

I opened the garage door and a barn swallow flew out. It had entered as my wife had exited. It was happy to see the world. So was I.

Those thrilling days of yesteryear

Back there in grade school, we drew things in pencil on construction paper. I usually drew a cow. I’d been around cows all my life. I knew what they looked like, but my drawings all looked like unfit amoeba. That required me to write “cow” on the paper and have an arrow pointing from that word to the drawing. Occasionally, I’d draw the same thing and give it a speech bubble saying “Arf!” In a jaw-dropping, stunning feat of prestidigitation, I’d turned a cow into a dog. But what kind of dog says “arf”?

When you think of Little Orphan Annie, if you ever think of Little Orphan Annie, you might imagine a little red-haired girl singing “The sun will come out tomorrow.” From 1924 to 2010, cartoonist Harold Gray’s “Little Orphan Annie” comic strip presented the adventures of a plucky girl with empty pupils who got in and out of trouble. Her guardian was a rich industrialist named Daddy Warbucks. Wily and resourceful, she usually saved herself. “Leaping lizards,” Annie said. Her dog Sandy added, “Arf.”

Nature notes

I walked between stops at blooming flowers. I thought they’d never blossom, but they did. I need to maintain the faith of the flowers. I heard the snort of a deer. I’d spooked a doe from her hiding place. The deer forcibly expelled air through her nostrils. She does this when she detects danger. I watched a flock of Canada geese flying north. I see them on a molt migration during late May and early June each year. The geese, too young to mate or without goslings, fly north to safe places where they undergo an eclipse molt that includes the loss of flight feathers, which grounds the birds for four or five weeks.

Meeting adjourned

Empathy before judgement. Be kind.