Al Batt: A wish for rain

Published 5:00 pm Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

I dropped my watch into the Le Sueur River and a year and a half later, it was still running.

Your watch was still running?

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No, the river.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Deep thoughts occur as I drive past his drive. Summer is the season when I sit outside on wobbly chairs and try not to let the flies settle on a day with the heat of Costco proportions and a day I’ll dream about in January. The 4th of July reminds me that the infinite summer is finite. I’ve walked in enough parades to know the secret is to walk behind shady politicians on a sunny day.

A common refrain has been a wish for rain. People aren’t getting their money’s worth out of rain gauges. Ecosystem architects become stressed about stressed lawns. Harvey Benson of Harmony said he’d had a month of no rain and was watering flowers when he decided to water his rain gauge. The next day, his yard received an inch and a half of rain. In my mischievous years, I’d poured a little extra into a neighbor’s rain gauge in the hopes he’d think he lived in the state’s rainforest. I would have apologized, but I was a chicken.

I spied with my little eye the place I was looking for—Elmo’s Eyecare and Car Wash. A meteorite had missed both Earth and me, but my wife had stepped on my head. If you’re married long enough, everything is bound to happen. Here’s a tip for you: don’t let your spouse step on your head. It doesn’t do your glasses much good. I was waiting for my spectacles to be straightened when another customer showed me his eyeglasses. His puppy (a blue heeler-lab cross) had chewed the usefulness out of them. It made me think of my wife’s Uncle Harvey Crumb, who had put his hearing aids down and his dog ate them. Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover your dog eating hearing aids or trying to eat eyeglasses, and it doesn’t cover your wife stepping on your head.

I’ve learned

The word “weird” sounds weird.

The hairs in my nose and ears aren’t watching where they’re growing.

An everything bagel doesn’t include everything.

A consultant is someone you pay to flip a coin for you.

Never build a ship in a bottle while driving.

Bad joke department

A man was cleaning out his late grandfather’s house when he came across a repair ticket from a local lawnmower repair shop dated14 years ago. He pocketed the ticket and drove to the repair shop, figuring it was worth a try. He handed the ticket to the man behind the counter who disappeared into a dark corner at the back of the shop. A few minutes later, the man returned and said, “It’ll be ready on Thursday.”

Nature notes

The Cherokee called the turkey vulture the “peace eagle,” because it wasn’t predatory. 

Summer offers more blooming flowers in prairies, fields and ditches, and outside the woods where flowers bloomed in the spring. 

A reader asks what she could do to prevent deer from eating her hostas. You can tell a deer has been dining because it eats the plant by tearing the leaves from stems, leaving hostas that resemble celery stalks. My radio partner, Karen Wright of Mankato, told me she has found two products that are effective in repelling deer—Milorganite and Deer Defeat. Milorganite fertilizer is one of the oldest branded fertilizers on the market and is derived from heat-dried microbes that have digested the organic material in wastewater from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. Deer Defeat doesn’t need to be reapplied after rain. It’s made from all-natural ingredients that require repeated spraying every 30 days. 

Before the legislature decided on the common loon as Minnesota’s state bird in 1961, several other birds were suggested, including the eastern goldfinch (1947), the mourning dove (1951), the pileated woodpecker (1951 and 1953), the scarlet tanager (1951) and the wood duck (1951). Erratic swimmers are the loon’s favorite since it makes them easy to catch. Loons eat a lot of yellow perch, bluegill, pumpkinseed and crayfish. The Iowa Ornithologists’ Union (IOU) held its 10th annual convention in Des Moines and recommended the goldfinch as the state bird. Representative J. Wilbur Dole, an IOU member, introduced a resolution adopted and passed by the House and  Senate on March 22, 1932. Iowa was the first of three states (New Jersey and Washington) to name the goldfinch its state bird.

Meeting adjourned

“What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?”—Jean Jacques Rousseau.