Al Batt: Bringing people into focus

Published 5:56 pm Tuesday, December 6, 2022

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Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

Guess who I bumped into on my way to my first eye exam in years.


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Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. It gets late so early now. Some people have already deserted us for the warm south. We’ll see you in 50°, they say. Thanksgiving had been a keeper. I delighted in opening my book to this chapter and spent it with good company and asparagus pickles.

A couple of months ago, an ambitious wind blew a small branch onto our roof. It was too small to do damage and I figured another wind would move it to the ground where I could catch it and move it to a brushpile. The stick has resisted all the efforts of the winds to relocate it. It’s a sticky stick. What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t come back? A stick.

I enjoyed poutine in a cafe in Alberta. Poutine is French fries and cheese curds smothered in gravy. It was a delicious cardiac event on a plate. I made it a healthy meal by declining a Nanaimo bar, which is layers of chocolate, coconut and nuts glued together by a creamy yellow custard.

I’ve been ringing the bells for the Salvation Army. I donated my earmuffs or ear warmers to the Salvation Army. I had hoped my ears would be rejoicing in the warmth the ear covers would provide, but they were too small for my fat head. They were in pristine condition, worn only once, and I’m certain another will have toasty ears thanks to them. The only thing they did for me was to keep me from hearing the bark of trees.

A lifetime of recollections

I need to learn how to use chopsticks. I thought I was taking chop class in school, but it turned out to be shop class, involving woodwork and metalwork.

A Chihuahua was my dog. He was loving, faithful and small. I encountered a fellow one day who looked at my canine companion and asked, “How small will he get?”

I’ve learned

I love ice cream cones in the cold of winter because the ice cream doesn’t melt.

Pets fill the awkward pauses.

Procrastinators don’t live longer.

Bad jokes department

Before the crowbar was invented, crows drank at home.

What should I do when I come to a spork in the road?

World champion tongue twister is arrested and given a tough sentence.

In Star Wars XV, Luke needs a walker.

Nature notes

I want to notice everything. If you notice you aren’t noticing everything, is that noticing everything? I digress. Bodies of water become leaf soup in the fall. I miss seeing the NASCAR birds, turkey vultures, flying in circles. In Roman mythology, Romulus and Remus, twin sons of a princess and the god Mars, are the founders of Rome. The brothers quarreled over the location of their new city. Romulus wished to start the city on Palatine Hill, while Remus wanted to put it on Aventine Hill. To settle their disagreement, they agreed to consult augury, a type of prophecy in which birds are observed and examined to determine which twin the gods favored. Each brother prepared a sacred space on his respective hill and watched for birds. Remus saw six vultures, while Romulus saw 12 and began to dig trenches and build walls for the new city on Palatine Hill.

I’m looking for a Christmas hawk. That’s what I called the handsome rough-legged hawk when I was a lad. It’s an Arctic breeder in Alaska and northern Canada and comes south to places like Minnesota and Iowa in the fall/winter. “Rough-legged” refers to feathered legs, which provide warmth. It, the ferruginous hawk and the golden eagle are the only American raptors to have legs feathered to the toes. Roughlegs perch on thinner branches than red-tailed hawks do and hover while hunting, with lemmings being the favorite prey in their breeding range. They’re feeding on voles and mice here. Roughlegs come in light or dark morphs. Studies show dark raptors hunt more successfully during cloudy days and light-colored hawks flourish when the sky is bright. I watched a northern harrier, once called a marsh hawk, skimming low over an open field as it hunted; propelled on languid wingbeats with wings raised in a dihedral when gliding. It forages in a teetering side-to-side flight. A female harrier’s plumage is dark brown above and buff below. The male is pale gray above and white below.

Meeting adjourned

Be kind to everyone. You never know who might not be here next year.