Al Batt: Spring time, with winter close behind

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

We have a sale on rolling scones today.

No, thanks. I’d like to buy a half-dozen long johns with cream filling.

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I’m sorry, but we accept only cash.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. I was hot and tossed and turned in bed. I felt like a rotisserie chicken. I discovered my wife had sneaked an extra blanket onto the bed. Happy the cause was benign, I staggered to the window and looked at 9 inches of snowfall — more or less. I serve on a board on which everyone but me is from Alaska and I mentioned on our Zoom meeting we’d had a snowfall and gave 8 inches as an approximation to be modest about the weather. A member from Haines said they’d just received 17 and another from Anchorage said 19 inches. They won. I should have claimed 9 feet. I remember snowfalls from my formative years. The amounts increase in my memory. Dylan Thomas wrote, “I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.” Snow adds to March Madness, which has referred to a form of madness or uncharacteristic behavior affecting people in March since the 1900s. The expression may come from the erratic weather of the season or the harebrained behavior of hares. The NCAA’s March Madness incites insanity. Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote, “If winter comes, can spring be far behind.” Some pessimistic Minnesotans maintain that if spring comes, winter can’t be far behind.


I worked in a gas station in a large city. It was an inconvenient convenience store. It sold gas, snacks, pop and cigarettes, and had a restroom. The key to its locked door was chained to a hunk of metal the size of an anvil. The restroom hadn’t been cleaned since sliced bread was invented. My boss told me to clean it. I wasn’t happy to have that assignment. I hung a sign on the door that read, “Too closed for comfort.”

Glen Christopherson died recently. I’ll miss him. He made me think of Burma-Shave signs. Burma-Shave is a brand of shaving cream, famous for its advertising gimmick of posting humorous rhyming poems on small sequential highway roadside signs. Glen often sported a beard, so I’m not sure he used Burma-Shave. I thought of that product because one of their poems was “Don’t stick your elbow Out too far. It might go home In another car. Burma-Shave.” Years ago, Glen got from here to there by riding a motorcycle. My neighbor Irvin Armstrong drove a Cadillac. Glen drove fast. Irvin drove slow. You had to pass Irvin unless you were on foot and had a sprained ankle. Irvin liked to roll down the driver’s side window and put his arm out. It produced a lopsided tan that was favored by plodders. One day, Irvin was racing a snail down the highway when Glen passed him. As Glen went by on his motorcycle, he reached over and slapped Irvin on his tanned arm. Both vehicles stayed on the road. It has become a cheering story to tell in memory of these two gentlemen.

Bad joke department

What has four letters, occasionally has twelve letters, always has six letters, but never has five letters.​

How many opticians does it take to change a light bulb? One? Or two? Or one? Or two? How about now?

Nature notes

Birds enliven the yard. In spring, a woodpecker excavates a nest cavity in a dead tree. It knows it has its hole life ahead of it. Several readers reported birds fighting with their mirrored images in windows. That’s what happens when they take anger management classes online.

Charles St. Charles of Michigan wrote, “You say the black-capped chickadee whistles ‘Fee-bee,’ but I hear something different. Maybe it’s because I cheerfully feed so many of them throughout the year that what I hear is ‘Feed me.’”

“You should let people know about the award you received from the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union.” How nice of you to give me an opportunity for humblebrag. A few years ago, I received the T. S. Roberts Memorial Award, MOU’s lifetime achievement award for “Outstanding Contributions to Minnesota Ornithology and Birding.” Thomas Sadler Roberts (1858 – 1946) was a physician known for his work in ornithology, bird conservation, his book “The Birds of Minnesota,” and for his help in establishing the Bell Museum of Natural History.

Meeting adjourned

A small kindness is never a little thing.