Mouth was full with everything but shoelaces


An Argiope pens a letter to the editor. The black-and-yellow garden spiders are typically found in late summer in the center of large, roundish webs. AL BATT/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
By : 
AL BATT
FOR THE BIRDS

I was feeling as run out as a well-placed bunt. I’d looked everywhere, but I couldn’t find it. I’d searched for so long that I’d forgotten what I was looking for three times. The good news is that wherever it was when I was looking for it, it’s still there.

I decided to have something to eat. Maybe hunger was the cause of my inability to remember the location of whatever it was that I was trying to find. Off to a restaurant I went.

“Only one?” asked the headwaiter.

They are good at that. “Just one?” is another common greeting.

I wanted to say, “No, there are 29 more getting out of my car. We’re clowns.”

He likely wanted to say, “Be sure to check out our Loser Special.”

My meal came. The server waited until my mouth was full before asking, “How is everything?”

I wanted to tell her about my shoelace that had broken that morning. I couldn’t find any replacement shoelaces, so I needed to go shopping. 

That’s what I wanted to say, but I couldn’t because my mouth was full. So I just nodded and gave her a thumps-up sign with my fork. Servers wait until a mouth is at full capacity before asking questions. That cuts down on complaints.

Echoes from Loafers’ Club

Why so glum?

My wife is going on a three-day shopping trip.

So what’s the problem?

She’s taking me with her.

Driving by Bruce's drive

I have a wonderful neighbor, named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me, such as: I enjoy watching baseball. The leisurely pace of the game suits me. That’s part of its charm. I confess that I’m a chronic multitasker and baseball games allow opportunities for that. You can take a nap during a game. When the Washington Senators relocated to Minnesota in 1961, they became the Twins. I was a lad then, but I didn’t care for the name. I liked the Minnesota part, but the Twins? The Twins stood for Minneapolis and St. Paul. Two minor league teams, the Minneapolis Millers and the St. Paul Saints had been displaced by the Twins. The Twins played at Met Stadium, located in Bloomington. Their name is unique and no worse than other professional teams. It’s probably better than most. The familiar name suits them now. What was my choice for a team name? I based it on the excessive expectoration of baseball players. They were and are spitting fools. An insect that creates a white, frothy foam on plants is called a spittlebug. The Minnesota Spittlebugs. It has a ring to it.

It was a fair day

There I was, standing and looking as if I were someone looking at chickens. Which is what I was doing. It’s a fine way to pass the time. I was peering at 4-H chickens at a county fair. They were Cochin hens. Big and friendly, they’ve inspired many people to get backyard chickens. 

Another fellow was looking at the same poultry. He said he didn’t like chickens. I asked him why. He said that when he was a boy, he had to carry struggling roosters to his grandmother so she could turn them into Sunday dinners.

He didn’t like chickens because those roosters insisted on pecking him when he carried them to slaughter. Go figure.

The guy from just down the road

My neighbor Crandall stops by.

“How are you doing?” I ask.

“Everything is nearly copacetic. My neighbor Weasel rode along with me to an important meeting in a big city. My neighbor Still Bill was going to come along, too, but he has an enlarged procrastinate. It was like beating my head against a dead horse to get him moving, so Weasel and I left him home. I decided to splurge by eating in a fancy restaurant. It’s a good thing Still Bill, he makes more dust than miles, wasn’t with us because he says ‘gawrsh’ instead of ‘gosh.’ That would have embarrassed us to no end. It was the Pelican Club, named for the size of its bills. The headwaiter gave us a dirty look because we weren’t wearing dinner jackets. I thought a dinner jacket was the skin on a baked potato. Weasel barely survived looking at the menu. It jarred his preserves. He’s so cheap, he can’t open his hands far enough to get gloves on. His wallet is on a bigger chain than his dog is. Weasel doesn’t believe in impulse buying. He believes in impulse banking. Weasel and I went to church Sunday morning. The minister said in his sermon that every man, woman and child in the congregation would die one day. That made me smile.”

“That’s terrible! Why did that make you smile?” I say. 

“Because I wasn’t a member of that congregation.”

Naturally

The next season is always just around the corner.

Rain fell. Waseca set the official state annual precipitation record in 2016 with a total of 56.24 inches, 63 percent of which fell between July and September.

Young animals are out and moving about. Some become roadkill before they discover that cars can be cold-hearted.

I saw no young robins in the yard. Baby robins are unable to fly well when they leave the nest. They must build muscles and grow adult feathers to be capable fliers and that takes time after fledging. Their spotted breasts and other camouflage markings help hide them from predators. They are skilled at blending in with their environment. Robins typically have two broods a year with both parents feeding the youngsters. About a quarter of those that fledge survive to November. About half of those birds survive to the next year.

I noticed some abnormal molts on birds in the yard — two bald blue jays and a bald cardinal. Barn swallows sliced the air, feeding upon swarming ants. The barn swallow is a Neotropical migrant. It travels south in flocks to winter in Mexico, Central America and South America. It travels by day, eating as it flies. It travels as many as 600 miles a day.

Q-and-A

Bonita Underbakke of Lanesboro and Rod Meyer of Mankato each asked the identity of a beautiful black and yellow spider that appears to be trying to write a novel in its web.

It’s an Argiope (ar-JYE-o-pee) or black-and-yellow garden spider. It’s also called a yellow garden spider, a signature spider or writing spider. It’s an orb weaver. They are typically found in late summer in the center of large, roundish webs.

The spider's large web often has an area in a zigzag pattern, called a stabilimentum, which resembles dental floss. The purpose for this is up for conjecture, but is thought to provide camouflage for the spider, attract flying insect prey by reflecting ultraviolet light or is a warning to birds to avoid the web.

There is much folklore as to what the spider is trying to write. As with many spiders, the female is much larger that the male. She has a body measuring about an inch long and, including their legs, can be several inches in length. 

Thanks for stopping by

“Restoring nature to its natural state is a cause beyond party and beyond factions. It has become a common cause of all the people of this country. It is a cause of particular concern to young Americans, because they, more than we, will reap the grim consequences of our failure to act on programs that are needed now if we are to prevent disaster later. Clean air, clean water, open spaces — these should once again be the birthright of every American. If we act now, they can be.” — President Richard Nixon's 1970 State of the Union message to Congress

“That man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest.” — Henry David Thoreau

Meeting adjourned

“My dad's life story was a string of kindness. He treated everyone as an equal, whether it was the bank teller or the bank president. He even attributed his survival to the courage of kindness.” — Daniel Lubetzky

DO GOOD.

© Al Batt 2018

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