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Al Batt: Learning what you can in the new year

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

It’s the same thing after Christmas each year.

The feeling of peace, love and understanding?

No, the feeling of having worked less often than a fast-food ice cream machine.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me: That which doesn’t freeze us solid makes us warmer. January is when we begin to miss the smell of sunscreen and wear snowshoes more often than sandals. It’s been called the month with empty pockets. I shoveled snow to make room for more snow. “Miracle on Ice” was a science fiction film about a Midwestern driver going an entire winter without spinning on ice. I recall the year I got my wife a refrigerator for Christmas. Her eyes lit up when she opened that present.

Hangnails and hamstrings

I watched a video that made me cry. I was eating popcorn and got salt in my hangnail. It was about old guys playing softball.

“I’m not half bad,” said one. “I’m not quite dead yet,” added another. I used to play in a Hall of Fame softball game or two each year. The sound of snapping hamstrings was deafening. We quit to save our ears.

Happy New Year

There might be days when you feel as if you’d just run through a briar patch. I hope Willa Cather’s words from her book, “The Song of the Lark,” might prove helpful. “There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.” 2020 taught us what we value and what we could do without. We discovered things we took for granted. When you spend a lot of time on the bench, as most of us did in 2020, we reframe our goals. I found out that Americans, just 4% of the world’s population, are responsible for 20% of the global toilet paper consumption. Supply your joke here.

A friend asked if I was going to get the vaccination. We didn’t need to identify the shot any more than that. Everyone knows which one we’re talking about. I told him I was keeping my sleeves rolled up. A few years back, I was headed to Africa for work. I needed to get a yellow fever shot. The doctor told me I might feel poorly for a short time after getting the vaccine, but she assured me it was much better than getting yellow fever.

I drove through a few small cities while completing errands one day. These were familiar haunts for me. I noticed everything used to be something else. How long has that been going on?

I hope 2021 landed on you as lightly as a butterfly with sore feet. I look forward to visiting with you in a church, or at a ballgame or county fair one day.

Bad joke department

Knock, knock. Who’s there? Owl. Owl who? Yes, they do.

Who shot Bart? The bartender.

What did the apple say to the orange? Nothing. Apples can’t talk.

What do you call a snowman in Hawaii? A puddle.

Nature notes

Canada geese flew overhead. There was a lot of honking. Road rage in the air? It was snowing. I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face — at least until I took it out of my pocket. I thought of albedo. No, that isn’t the name of an infamous mobster. The reflection of sunlight from the Earth’s surface is an important temperature control. The percentage of sunlight reflected from a surface is called its albedo. Generally, the greater the albedo, the cooler the surface because less sunlight is absorbed. Snow acts as a reflective blanket. It reflects the sun’s heat, cooling the overlying air, and it insulates the ground in winter, preventing some upper soil layers from freezing solid and protecting underlying vegetation from damage by severe frost. Snow reflects more of the sun’s energy because it’s white and more reflective than the darker ground.

There was a caucus of crows sorting through the snow. There was likely carrion there or perhaps the crows were building a snowbird. Earlier, the crows and blue jays had been hassling a sharp-shinned hawk in the yard. That accipiter had taken a junco.

I saw a coyote, with its tail curved to its body, running down

the road not far from my mailbox. I’ve been seeing more coyotes and their accompanying tracks. The mating season for coyotes begins in January and lasts through February. After breeding, females search for dens where five to seven pups are born in April.

Meeting adjourned

It’s wise to keep your lips buttoned each day until you can say something kind.