Al Batt: Best of buttered worlds

Published 4:59 pm Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

When I have toast, I butter both sides.

Why do you do that?

My lower lip likes butter just as much as my upper lip does.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. It was a bone-chilling day when the key to happiness was warm socks. It was a red-letter day. I needed to run both my car and me into the shop (oil changes in different shops) so we’d be ready to dance with the season. It snowed. The roads weren’t intimidating, but with each flake of snow that fell, a driver forgot how to drive. A car has idiot lights. Humans are idiots (I stand at the forefront) with or without lights.

I was on stage at a storytelling festival far from home when an audience member asked how I’d become a storyteller. I told her the story of a neighbor’s barn fire that occurred during my boyhood. The frightened cattle scattered. One male calf was found 30 miles away. I learned a little bull goes a long way.

A look back

As 2021 came to a screeching halt, I reflected upon the large number of friends and family who had shuffled off this mortal coil in those 12 months. John Vance Cheney wrote, “The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears.”

I’ve learned

There is a Mayflower curse and I have proof. Every single person who came over on the Mayflower has died.

Some things are my fault. I might have that made into a T-shirt.

A refrigerator shrinks more clothing than any washer or dryer.

The weather is mostly out of the ordinary.

I miss being naive.

If you have a pet, you know why it’s called fur-niture.

Bad joke department

If you could either eat bacon three times a day or be in perfect health, would you choose thick-cut, maple, smoked, dry-rubbed, center-cut or uncured?

What’s brown, hairy and wears sunglasses? A coconut on vacation.

What falls in the winter but never gets hurt? Snow.

My grandfather started walking 5 miles a day when he was 60 years old. He’s 97 now and we have no idea where he is.

A report of events

I visit regularly with Brenda and Merlyn Johnson of Mankato. I had both of them as teachers, but it was Brenda who attempted to teach me to type in high school. The typing class had both manual and electric typewriters. I needed to do an elbow slam like a villainous pro wrestler to get the manual to leave the slightest imprint of a letter on paper, while merely breathing on the electric typewriter filled an entire page with gobbledygook. I appreciate those two fine teachers.

Nature notes

I spotted a Baltimore oriole nest hanging on. The female chooses the site. She weaves the nest, a hanging pouch firmly attached to a fork of a slender branch in the upper branches of a deciduous tree (especially cottonwoods, maples and elms). The pendulous nest is tightly woven of plant fibers, strips of bark, grapevines, grass, yarn, string, plant down and hair.

I drove by muskrat mounds (lodges and push-ups). An old trapper told me to count lodges and multiply by five to get the muskrat population of a wetland.

While walking on a Christmas Bird Count, I saw black knot, a widespread fungal disease that attacks trees of the genus prunus, like plum and cherry trees. The hard, uneven, black galls appear to enwrap twigs and branches. Some trees tolerate black knot while others are stunted or killed.

Voles prefer a snow-covered winter. They prosper in the subnivean zone, the area between the surface of the ground and the bottom of the snowpack. Mice and shrews also retreat there for protection from cold temperatures, bitter winds and hungry predators. Food is available in that location. It takes about 6 inches of snow to provide the critters with a sturdy roof and roomy living quarters. A bit more snow and the subnivean zone remains near 32° regardless of the temperature above the snow.

Meeting adjourned

“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter.”— Desiderata by Max Ehrmann.