Al Batt: Too much to read in the aisle

Published 5:50 pm Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Echoes from the Loafer’s Club Meeting

I put the wrong year on every check I wrote in January.

Writing 2022 instead of 2023 is easy to do.

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I wrote 1979.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. My wife had given me a list. Light bulbs were on that list. I went to a store. There were many kinds of light bulbs. I wasn’t sure which one to get. I could have called her, but that would have made things too easy. How did I decide which bulbs to get? I used the process of illumination.

While bulb shopping, it happened. I can’t keep up with the checkout lane magazines. I don’t recognize most of the names. That’s OK. It’s not my job. My job is to know the names of the people I know. It’s official, I know more people than I can remember. A former neighbor had 22 children. I found comfort by telling myself there might have been days when the parents blanked on a child’s name. The mother and father might even have forgotten their own names occasionally.

Have you ever gotten off the elevator on the wrong floor and been too embarrassed to admit it and get back on the elevator? I’m sure I’ve done that, but I don’t do it anymore. I make a U-turn and get right back on the elevator as I say, “That was close!” If winter is my floor, I think I’m ready to get off on the wrong floor.

It was good news. The blizzard had been downgraded to a tropical storm, but when the days begin to lengthen, the cold begins to strengthen. The weather could have been worse and that was a distinct statistical possibility. I walked in -14° weather carrying a bar of soap in case I became bathed in sunlight. It had been -16° but I’d waited until it warmed up. The weather and I barely exchanged a word. The woodpeckers were drumming optimistically and male white-breasted nuthatches sang a rapid, nasal, low-pitched huh-huh-huh? Winter is nothing new. A friend, Carolyn Goolsby, lives in Bethel, Alaska, and says that Bethel is 400 miles from tomorrow. Spring is farther away than that, but it will be here too soon.

I purchased new tires. The old ones had served me well with 70,000 miles on them. I wondered if I needed new ones as that’s only 17,500 per tire, but was assured each tire had 70,000 miles on it. That means my tires had 280,000 miles on them. I need to call the Guinness World Records people.

I visited England and found the people to be nice and driving on the wrong side of the road. The wrong side of the road thing didn’t bother me. Drivers in my hometown do that regularly.

Bad joke department

Can a kangaroo jump higher than a house? Yes, a house can’t jump.

What do you call a magician who has lost the magic? Ian.

Do storm clouds wear thunderpants?

Nature notes

Jerry Viktora of Ellendale mentioned the winter survival capability of wild turkeys. Turkeys can remain in roosting areas for one or two weeks during severe weather and lose up to 40% of their body weight before dying of starvation. Young birds have less body fat than adults, which results in a higher winter mortality. Deep, powdery snow is more of a problem than cold weather as it limits the ability of turkeys to forage on the ground. They can scratch through a maximum of six inches of fluffy snow and a foot of packed snow. When the ground gets covered with a powdery snowfall, flocks congregate in stands of trees that hold snow in the canopy, and there will be less on the ground for the turkeys to combat. South-facing slopes or wind-swept fields lose snow quickly, allowing turkeys to forage. Turkeys are opportunists that eat vegetation, weed seeds (I’ve watched them eating burdock seeds), acorns, waste grain (especially corn left on the ground in fields after harvest), mosses, buds, fern spores, manure piles and seeds beneath birdfeeders.

Jim Lageson of Ellendale is checking goldfinches, looking for any hint of more yellow. Goldfinches begin a gradual molt in February, with their drab sweatpants replaced with new head and body feathers. The goldfinches keep their wing and tail feathers. The yellowing of goldfinches is a welcome sign of spring that is most noticeable around the head. Their bills begin to turn a pale orange. Long underwear covers the American goldfinches in my yard.

Meeting adjourned

Kind people are my kind of people.