Al Batt: Judging fish who can’t climb

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, January 13, 2021

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Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

Another year has gone by and what have we learned? Nothing.

That’s not true. I learned how to hoard toilet paper.

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I stand corrected.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. I drove down BroadMain past the Sweet Tooth Drive-In and the Lariat Bar. There were a few potholes on the street, but I’m a pothole wizard. I hadn’t traveled far when suddenly, nothing happened. It wasn’t long before I was on a highway many drivers had mistaken for a race track. Reports and studies have indicated people are driving faster during the pandemic. The sales of spirits and baked goods have skyrocketed. Fried chicken chain restaurants are weathering a true viral storm better than burger chains.

One climate-keeping outfit found we get 29.3 days each year when the temperatures fall below zero where I live. That’s acceptable to me. Is a person wiser to live in Minnesota than in Florida? I’ve been to Florida often. I’ve enjoyed my time there. Nature shows us that intelligence is a reflection of an animal’s success in its environment. This idea is best captured and perpetuated by the following quote which wasn’t said by Einstein but is most often attributed to him: “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” A person is wise to live in a place that suits him. I enjoy living not far from the coast of Iowa.

I saw a Eurasian tree sparrow in my yard. It was no fish climbing a tree but I’d have been less surprised to see other things. Birds brighten my days. I’d never seen this sparrow in the southernmost tiers of Minnesota counties before and no one has ever reported one. I’ve not spotted one in the northernmost tiers of Iowa either. I’m glad I’d been where I was and saw  that lovely bird.

Thoughts while sharing a shower with a spider

If animals went to school, opossums would flunk spelling.

Beef jerky makes a poor backscratcher.

Patting my pockets doesn’t make a lost item reappear.

A shopping mall is a cruise ship that never goes anywhere.

While working in Louisiana, I learned that food was anything that didn’t eat me first.

I’ve washed my hands so often, I can read the answers to a history test I’d written on my hand when I was in junior high.

The bad joke department

The salesman at the furniture store told me, “This sofa will seat five people without any problems.” I said, “Great, but where am I going to find five people without any problems?”

The man was in a relationship with Lorraine, but he fell in love with Claire Lee. When Lorraine found out, she left him. He sang, “I can see Claire Lee now Lorraine is gone.”

What’s the best vegetable to have around when you get a flat tire? A spare I guess (asparagus).

I bought coconut shampoo the other day but it wasn’t until I got home that I remembered I don’t have a coconut.

Nature notes

I walked eight miles counting birds. I’m proud of being able to walk and count at the same time, but I didn’t try chewing gum, too. Why push my luck? It was a lovely day, but a breeze found a way of intruding. I’ve been told by those who suspect things that the wind here blows 364 days a year (365 on Leap Year) before taking one day off to catch its breath.

Goldfinches fed on nyjer seed. Sometimes I wish the American goldfinches were a bright yellow all year, but they’re spectacular at all times. They experience a complete molt twice a year. In the fall, the male trades his bright yellow feathers and black cap for an olive-green wardrobe with blackish wings and pale wing bars. He becomes yellow again in the spring. Adults and juvenile goldfinches have similar dull olive-green plumages during the late fall and winter. The bill color of goldfinches changes with each molt. In winter plumage, their bills are a drab grayish brown. In breeding plumage, they become an orange color. My father referred to them as wild canaries.

There were many creatures in the yard trying to keep their New Year’s resolution to not be eaten by a predator. A shrew under the feeders ate what it could find. The tiny mammal has the metabolism of a blast furnace.

Meeting adjourned

“Kindness is like snow. It beautifies everything it covers.” — Kahlil Gibran