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Al Batt: Snow plow drivers are the knights of the winter roads

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

I’d hate to be in your shoes.

Why?

Because they’d be way too small for me.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. We called it the Monkey Ward’s catalog. It was an exercise in syllable avoidance. Not saying “Montgomery Ward” saved a lot of time. I read that the Sears catalog was made a little shorter and narrower than the Montgomery Ward catalog on the theory that an organized shopper would naturally stack it on top. At its peak, the Sears catalog offered over 100,000 items on 1,400 pages. That included houses. The Ward’s catalog, the “Wish Book,” once had 1,000 pages. Those catalogs weighed as much as four pounds. I lived not far from the nine-story Montgomery Ward building in St. Paul’s Midway. That place sold tires and lawnmowers as if there was no tomorrow. There wasn’t. The building was demolished in 1995. I’d called it “Monkey’s” in order to save even more syllables.

There was snow there that needed plowing

The county snowplow went into the ditch on a blustery day. That shook up my Etch-a-Sketch. It took a road grader to free the truck from the clutches of the snow and ice. I appreciate the people who clear our roads for travel. I was visiting with one of those knights of the whiteout when the conversation turned to drivers not signaling their turns. My car comes with an owner’s manual with information showing that my vehicle is equipped with turn signals. Apparently, not every car has a manual covering that.

Texas tales

On my first visit to Texas, a fellow who looked like a cross between a cowboy and a used car salesman asked if I’d like to see the entire state of Texas. I answered I’d love to one day. He held up his right hand with its palm outward and bent the last three fingers down to the palm. With the forefinger pointing up and thumb extended to the right, it looked like Texas, albeit a smaller version of the real thing. I remember leading a group from Texas around a Minnesota park. They were the best of people but felt the obligation to tell me how all things in Texas were bigger than their Gopher State equivalents. I reckon they were right in their observations. We walked past a few painted turtles sunning on a log. I asked if they knew what those were and before they could answer, I said they were Minnesota wood ticks.

Bad joke department

The creator of the windchill factor died. He was 87 but felt 66.

If shredded cheese was banned, it would make America grate again.

What’s green and goes camping? Brussels scouts.

Have you noticed how many small towns are named after water towers?

If I won the $1 million lottery, I’d give a quarter of it to charity. I don’t know what I do with the other $999,999.75.

At a certain age, there are two things you don’t want to do on the same day — buy a full-length mirror while you’re adjusting to new prescription eyeglasses.

Nature notes

There is blue snow in my yard caused by the urine of rabbits or deer that have eaten buckthorn. The buckthorn contains a chemical that passes out with the urine. It comes out yellowish to brownish, but after exposure to sunlight, it turns a lovely blue color, the color of windshield washer fluid. This effect is visible because the urine is suspended in snow. You’d think the cottontails are eating the berries of the buckthorn because they are purplish, but the effect occurs after the animals have eaten other parts of the plant. Buckthorn holds its leaves long after most native deciduous plants and I’ve watched cottontails feed on the bark and twigs in winter. I’d expect they eat more of it when they are stressed by hunger.

I wanted to go for a walk, but I didn’t want to bother the pheasants foraging under the feeders. They were pleasant pheasants. When they finished breakfast, I became an errant exerciser. Gretel Ehrlich said, “Walking is also an ambulation of mind.” I heard a red-bellied woodpecker call. It sounded peeved. And why not? It had to deal with winter. A chickadee sounded off, it’s “fee-bee” song triggered by hormones. Cardinals sang and a downy woodpecker drummed along, hoping to establish a territory. The days grow longer at both ends. That excites everyone.

Meeting adjourned

“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” — Anne Lamott