Al Batt: Congrats: you made it another day

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, October 7, 2020

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Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

Where are you going?

I’m taking part in a virtual play practice.

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Well, break a digital leg.

Driving by

Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor, named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me, such as: If 2020 were ice cream, it would be okra flavored.

We have learned “What else could go wrong?” is a question that should never be asked in 2020. If my mother were alive, she’d slap on an extra copper bracelet. She believed those bands eased pain.

Congratulations! Not many people have what it takes to make it to today. The living represent about 7 percent of the total number of humans who have ever lived. The air has a chill, perhaps several. I’ve been an election judge for forever and then some.

I’ll not be one this year and I’ll miss seeing the voters and handing out “I voted” stickers. Like many others during this year of prodigious prevarications where the truth is bent and stretched like Gumby, I tried to warm myself by watching a dumpster fire (the presidential debate). I developed a twitch. May you dance in a sunbeam and become a portrait of illumination.

A penny for your thoughts

I was in a supermarket checkout line. While I waited, I spotted a penny on the floor. It was like finding a coin behind a sofa cushion. I tried to ignore it, but I had to pick it up. It’s difficult to overcome a habit that’s lasted a lifetime. I offered to split it with the cashier, but she insisted I keep the whole thing. I had a profitable day until paying for my groceries. I have a friend, Penny Les, who’s fond of saying this about anyone involved in the federal government, “They’re living on my dime.” Penny Les has hopes of becoming rich by winning a lottery. He never was good at math. He showed me an article from 24/7 Wall Street saying the top 1 percent of Iowans earn at least $402,246, with an average income of $978,158 and the top 1 percent of Minnesota earners make at least $522,444 with an average income of $1,399,463. Information is at

I’m going to need to pick up a lot of pennies.

A life-defining event

I did a Zoom talk where an audience member asked how I became captivated by birds. Long before I became president of the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union based solely on my ability to spell “Ornithologists’” correctly and to know where the apostrophe should be placed, it was my mother who got me interested. There were pesky flies in the house. Mom and I sat at the kitchen table. I’d been looking at a couple of field guides I’d checked out from the library. The flies became especially irksome as I marveled at the drawings and descriptions of them in one guide. Dad was using the good flyswatter in the living room. A fly landed on my head. My mother grabbed the bird field guide and said, “Don’t move!” She hit me upside the head with a bird book. She missed the fly, but birds were driven into my brain. It caused benevolent brain damage.

Look for these

natural occurrences

1. Wild grape and hackberry leaves turn a lovely yellow.

2. Muskrats build dome-shaped houses from vegetation in marshes and ponds. Woodchucks carry dried leaves into their underground dens in preparation for hibernation. Beavers cut down trees for winter food.

3. Cedar waxwings and American robins feed on crabapples

4. Rafts of American coots (mudhens) on lakes.

5. Native sparrows and yellow-rumped warblers migrate through.

6. A northern cardinal has brown feathers and a dark beak when it leaves the nest. A prebasic molt (by which birds replace all feathers, typically occurring annually after the breeding season) produces an adult plumage. A young cardinal might have blotchy coloration.

7. Most raptors are reluctant to cross large bodies of water. When they migrate south and encounter Lake Superior, the birds veer southwest along the lakeshore. They concentrate in impressive numbers on the bluffs overlooking Duluth and can be seen from the overlook at Hawk Ridge. Winds from the west or northwest are best for bringing in big numbers of birds. Lower counts are expected on days with south or east winds. The record number of broad-winged hawks seen at Hawk Ridge was 101,698 on Sept. 15, 2003. October brings exciting numbers of bald and golden eagles, rough-legged hawks, red-tailed hawks and northern goshawks. The peak migration of turkey vultures is in late September and early October.

Meeting adjourned

You don’t need to always fix everything. Sometimes all you need do is to listen. Be kind.