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Al Batt: Relax, it’s a laid-back rush

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

My goal is to always be a nice person. There’s only one thing that prevents me from accomplishing that.

What’s that?

Other people.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. Rush hour in a small town is when school lets out. It’s more of a laid-back rush minute. On this day, folks rushed to cemeteries to pay their respects. The smell of lilacs is memory-inducing. I remember visiting the graves of ancestors when I was a barefoot boy with cheeks of tan whistling merrily down the road of life. I tried not to step on a grave. Older kids told me that brought bad luck. The things that bring luck, good or bad, can be confusing to a youngster. Some things are good luck only if you don’t mention your good luck. Then they are in danger of becoming bad luck. I was positive that finding a penny brought at least a penny’s worth of good luck. A fellow visitor to the cemetery said, “It’s not raining as hard as it is, was it?” I had to agree, I think.

The honor system 

I’d eaten three dog biscuits from the bag we kept in the barn for the dogs. They were in the shapes of a bone, a fish and a milk bottle—and they weren’t bad. I asked myself, “Who’s a good boy?” I answered myself, “Me,” and signed up to become a school crossing guard. It was stressful work for a grade school student, but I was proud to wear the badge. Getting a squirrel to cross a street in the appropriate spot wasn’t easy. Getting my ducks in a row is simpler than getting squirrels in a row. I finally put them on the honor system.

I needed a gift for someone after I told stories in the UP of Michigan and spotted a roadside stand advertising maple syrup for sale. I saw the stand was manned occasionally because there was the backseat of a car behind it. A poor man’s desk chair. The syrup was sold on the honor system. I put money in the lockbox and grabbed a bottle before I noticed the sign reading, “NOTICE Security Cameras In Use.” The honor system went only one way out of necessity.

The mailbag

Sheryl Young of Sandusky, Ohio wrote, “A produce clerk passed this tip along to a friend. If the produce you are bagging has a sticky label on it, you can peel it off and lightly tap it on one side of the bag to pull it open.”

Marian Bahl of Faribault sent this, “Handy dandy hint for opening those pesky produce bags: Wear one surgical glove and rub the opening of the bag between your fingers. Voila! It opens!”

Jerry Viktora of Ellendale named a dog Askhim. Whenever someone asked Jerry what his dog’s name was, Jerry pointed at the canine and said, “Askhim.”

Nature notes

Leann Juveland of Albert Lea asked if great horned owls mate for life. They’re monogamous and a pair often remains on territory all year. Pairs may stay together for life. If one dies, the survivor finds another mate. In the fall, the pair begins a courtship display, calling loudly to each other. They have one to four eggs with a 30-37 day incubation period.

Feeding birds in the summer brings them to where we can see them better. It’s our own private Discovery Channel or National Geographic Channel that allows us to see hummingbirds and orioles at nectar feeders. Jelly feeders bring in gorgeous orioles, tanagers and catbirds. Sunflower seeds attract handsome rose-breasted grosbeaks. American goldfinches eat seeds almost exclusively. House finches eat almost solely plant materials, including seeds, buds and fruits. I love seeing a father cardinal introduce his offspring to a feeder. Peanuts bring blue jays, brown thrashers and red-bellied woodpeckers. I keep our restaurant open year-round.

Juvenile bald eagles might look larger than the adults during their first year because of longer flight feathers that aid fledglings in learning to fly.

“My grandfather told me that robins sing before a rain. Is that true?” When robins are intent on singing, they begin early in the morning and sing before almost everything. I think robins sing before a rain, a rain song of sorts filled with liquid phrases, perhaps responding to changes in barometric pressure.

Meeting adjourned

“Life is like a library owned by an author. In it are a few books which he wrote himself, but most of them were written for him.”—Harry Emerson Fosdick. Another reason to be kind and appreciative.