Al Batt: It’s Wally, because that’s his name

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, March 3, 2021

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Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

What’s wrong?

Nothing and everything. I’m a born worrier.

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Well, you were born at the right time.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. We weren’t cameras with legs in those days. We took a roll of film to Rexall Drug in New Richland for processing and called every couple of years to see if the photos were ready. The pandemic has caused my wife to review our photos and cull the herd. She came across a photo of a bear seen not long after we’d married. We thought all bears were like Yogi Bear. He might steal your picnic basket but was otherwise no threat. We’d left our lodgings (Lutsen Resort) in a friend’s car. I’ll call him Wally because that was his name. Wally drove his land yacht to Tofte in Cook County to watch the black bears feeding at the dump. Wally had brought along marshmallows to feed the bears. We treated the bruins as if they were Jet-Puffed marshmallow-loving huge hamsters. Gulls grabbed the marshmallows before the bears could, causing one bear to seek the source of the spongy confections. We dove back into the car. Wally had been taking photos of the bears. In his haste to relocate, he’d left his camera on the roof of the car. We sat in that parked vehicle, hoping to retrieve the camera when it was safe. The bear grabbed it. He chewed on it and covered the camera with bear slobber, but he took no photos of other bears.

No grape, no nuts

There is a shortage of Grape-Nuts cereal. My father favored them. So did Euell Gibbons, who was a spokesperson for Grape-Nuts cereal and said, “Ever eat a pine tree? Many parts are edible” in a TV commercial. Gibbons wrote a successful cookbook “Stalking the Wild Asparagus. He said that Grape-Nuts “Tastes like wild hickory nuts.” Few people knew what a hickory nut tasted like, but it sounded good. I called it gravel and recommended my father soak it in milk for a week to make it chewable. Because of this, I hadn’t noticed its shortage.

I’m all hat and no cattle

I’ve worked often in Texas, and my wife and I have spent time in the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV). I had a Texas-sized bucket list. Birds, plants, insects, snakes, scorpions, H-E-B (grocery stores with 100,000 employees in Texas and northern Mexico), Buc-ee’s (travel center/convenience store) and Whataburger. I saw all but Buc-ee’s in the LRGV and needed to journey north to find one. The basic food groups in Texas are Tex-Mex, BBQ, grapefruit without sugar needed, chicken-fried steak and Whataburger. Whataburger is a fast-food chain the founder hoped would cause customers to exclaim, “What a burger!” Nolan Ryan, the Hall of Fame pitcher, promoted Whataburger.

From the mailbag

Neil Case of Albion, Ind. wrote, “An uncle, when he was 96, told me he was living so long because he was ornery. Then, pointing a finger at me, he said, ‘And you’re going to live longer than I will.’ He lived to be 102. May you as long as my uncle.”

Bad joke department

What do Winnie the Pooh and Attila the Hun have in common? They have the same middle name.

What’s red and smells like blue paint? Red paint.

If you crossed the street, changed a lightbulb and walked into a bar today, your life is a joke.

Nature notes

1. Maple sap flow is triggered by thawing days followed by freezing nights.

2. Chipmunks are out and about.

3. Migrating Canada geese arrive.

4. Marcescent (withered but persistent) leaves drop from red oak and ironwood trees.

5. Wild turkeys have started their spring courtship with toms gobbling, flaring tails and strutting.

6. The bulk of the noisy, male robins tend to follow the 37-degree average daily isotherm as they move northward. There is a wide variation among individuals, but that temperature means food (earthworms) is available. An isotherm is a line drawn on a map linking places having the same temperature. A customer of this column told me when you see a robin near a house, it foretells good fortune for the inhabitants of the house. We’re lucky folks.

7. House finches sing long, jumbled warbling songs of short notes, often ending with an upward or downward slur as if the bird was asking a question or had forgotten its song.

8. Meteorological spring began on March 1 and astronomical spring starts on March 20.

9. Red osier dogwood becomes the red veins of spring.

Meeting adjourned

Kindness, like grain, increases by sowing.