Al Batt: Oh deer! On to work

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

What’s new?

I saw four deer on the way to work this morning.

How do you know they were on their way to work?

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. The weather had been flexible. I tried to be. I enjoy shaving while listening to rambunctious music like Ravel’s 1812 Overture. I use a razor with sharp blades and worried I might decapitate myself one day, so I switched to listening to the news. I figured that would lessen the chances of an accidental carving, but I cut my philtrum. I’m going back to music.

I walked among the tombstones. The garden of the dead. It was a sacred place (everywhere is) and the cemetery where my mother-in-law was buried. I greeted a man old enough to start a conversation with, “Guess how old I am.” In my mind, I heard Grandma and them from days long past as they talked of death. “You’ll never guess who died again yesterday?” one said. Those Iowans were tough, apparently capable of dying more than once.

Your roving reporter

While working in Morgan City, Louisiana, I floated around the Atchafalaya Basin, the nation’s largest river swamp containing nearly one million acres of significant bottomland hardwoods, swamps, bayous and backwater lakes. I ate boudin, a sausage made of pork, liver, onions, rice and spices. It was good. After eating it in a time-worn joint, I ate whatever was placed in front of me. Occasionally, I ate to forget what I might be eating.

I couldn’t do it virtually

I’ve learned to check my dignity at the door, to fill out papers legibly on a clipboard and to put on a gown properly. It’s easy to become anxious around the saintliest of healthcare people. I know it’s possible to go from well to unwell in the blink of an eye. I had a colonoscopy. It was all good, but my wife was disappointed. She was hoping they’d find my head there.

A full day at a clinic is a kerfuffle. The effects of sedation were three in number. Slowed reaction, impaired judgment and I forget the third one. Oh, yeah, lapses in memory. Because of those things, they gave me a “Fall risk” bracelet in addition to the usual patient bracelet and a sticker for my shirt. After I’d been set free and my wife was driving me home, I decided to remove those labels. I grabbed a tiny scissors from its hiding place in the car and clipped the bracelet that covered my watch. I cut through the bracelet and the cheap band of the watch. My reaction wasn’t slowed, but my judgment was impaired.

Nature notes

Bird feeding softens the edges of isolation. It lowers blood pressure. Birds offer needed touches of life and feeders act as prisms. Shine a light through one and it radiates countless directions. The blue jays cried, “Hey, hey, hey!” I listened and tossed them some peanuts. I watched a red-tailed hawk work a thermal to ease its flight. Common grackles made sounds like rusty gates. Fox sparrows ripped up the dance floor of my yard with their chicken scratching. Maybe it was their version of the chicken dance?

This was gleaned from a Pheasants Forever publication. Producing one migratory monarch butterfly requires 29 milkweed plants since the butterflies have a survival rate of 1-2%. There are 76 (Monarch Watch says 73) native milkweed species in the U.S. During WWII, school children helped the war effort by collecting 1.5 billion milkweed pods to fill life jackets. A little over a pound of the cotton-like milkweed floss could keep a soldier afloat over 40 hours.

Bird Watcher’s Digest, a fine magazine, sent me my horoscope. It read: “Pisces is in tune with the magic of everyday existence. Affectionate, empathetic, wise, and soulful, you love nature and inspire people with the way you understand the rhythm of the seasons.” I blushed at the blarney.

The late Charlie Ellis had a farm in Lacombe, Alberta, with many bluebird nestboxes. When Charlie held white feathers in his hand, tree swallows flew down and snatched them. Tree swallows build cup nests of dried vegetation, gathered and carried to the nest mostly by the females. Both mates bring feathers, preferably white, to line and to arch over the cup.

Turkey vultures prefer meat (decaying carcasses) as fresh as possible. They can smell carrion less than 12-24 hours old. Many of us have a 3-second or 5-second rule. Vultures have a 259,200-second rule.

Meeting adjourned

“Silent gratitude isn’t very much to anyone.” — Gertrude Stein