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Al Batt: I’ve been told my mask is inside out

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

I put cow manure on my strawberries this year.

I’ve heard that’s a good thing to do.

Maybe so, but I’m going back to whipped cream next year.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me, such as: “Knock, knock! Who’s there? Hutch. Hutch who? Bless you, but remember we’re in a pandemic.”

I’m fine, thanks. Other than I must be parked in an episode of “The Twilight Zone.” People have been spring cleaning for over four months and many have racked up more screen hours each day than there are hours in a day.

My wife made me a mask. She said it was reversible. The first time I wore it, she told me I was wearing it inside out. Maybe it was a color-coordination faux pas. We’ve upgraded our behavior during a time when every sneeze is writ large. I wear a mask, social distance and wash my hands hundreds of times each day. I wear a mask because I don’t want to take the chance of being the male equivalent of Typhoid Mary and I haven’t found a single soul unworthy of my concern.

Masks are good for the economy. People are spooked when masks are lacking in stores. It’s a red flag. I don’t want the scariest Halloween costume to be someone not wearing a mask. Perhaps a health insurance company will give discounts to mask wearers? I don’t hate anyone, but I hate this damndemic and cancer. I’m doing my best to figure things out. I’m trying to piece things together by choosing to be happy.

Conjured memories

I’m part of the “get out” generation. I had to get out of the kitchen, the house or the drugstore with the comic book library. A neighbor, Tom Miller, told me what to do when I couldn’t get out. If I used the tube from an empty toilet paper roll as a megaphone to yell “too doo to do,” a concerned citizen would bring a new roll of paper at the exact time it was needed the most. That may have worked in the Miller home, but not in mine.

Donna Ferguson of New Richland, a wonderful woman I knew as Ma Fergy, died recently. Some called her Ma Ferguson. In 1924, another Ma (Miriam) Ferguson of Texas and Nellie Ross of Wyoming were elected the nation’s first female governors. Coincidentally, both Ma Fergusons had a husband named Jim. The Texan Jim had been elected governor in 1914. During his second term, he was impeached for misapplication of public funds and declared ineligible to hold public office. When his wife ran for office, she promised “two governors for the price of one.” Ma urged voters to restore Pa’s honor by voting for her and he governed over his wife’s shoulder.

I’ve learned

Uncomfortable chairs become antiques because no one sat on them.

Each day, the weather answers our questions from the day before.

Baseball was more fun to watch before every pitch and swing was analyzed from every possible angle.

From the mailbag

Amos Vogel of Morgan wrote of an old-timer who said the wood of the ironwood tree is so hard you could burn it for firewood and then beat the ashes into plowshares.

Harvey Benson of Harmony worked in Finland and regularly corresponds with Finns, one of which told him social distancing comes easy in Finland because the residents find it intimate.

Nature notes

A red-tailed hawk flew low enough that I could see the prey item it carried was a vole. The vole is the “potato chip of the prairie” — a popular food for many animals.

Birdsong had diminished as it does so in mid-July each year. There is little need for singing. On a hot day, I heard the shrill and excited “killy, killy, killy” call of an American kestrel. The hottest days in Minnesota history were 114° in July 1917 in Beardsley and in Moorhead in July 1936.

Large insects flew short distances before landing on the ground. They were Carolina locusts, a kind of grasshopper, that make crackling sounds called crepitations in flight. Their grayish-brown color blends into dry soils. Rainbow on wings, dragonflies and damselflies are fierce predators of flying insects. The two operate each of their four wings independently allowing for nimble flights. Damselflies are more slender than dragonflies and fold their wings over their bodies while at rest, while dragonfly wings are held horizontally.

Meeting adjourned

“Nothing, no one, is too small to matter. What you do is going to make a difference.” – Madeleine L’Engle. Be kind.