Al Batt: How can we be anything but humble?

AL BATT/BLUFF COUNTRY READER Red admiral, above and painted lady butterflies, below, vary in abundance from year to year.
By : 
Al Batt
For the Birds

I staggered outside to begin my early morning walk. I was full of wonder and the spirit of adventure. I was greeted with the most spectacular view I'd seen since the day before. It was such a nice day, I wished summer had 1,000 days like it. Each day is fragile and fleeting, but a few more days of its caliber and a fellow could be deluded into believing the world had achieved perfection. Such thinking is an ancient and honorable tradition.

A sulphur butterfly landed on me. That brought good luck, I hoped. Butterflies and fireflies are people pleasers. Paul Peters of Ceylon heard the first cicada the third week of July. That is late this year.

The neighbor's rooster crowed as no politician or pundit could. Bee balm or wild bergamot (Monarda), a native plant, bloomed. It's attractive to bees and butterflies. It smells a bit like Earl Grey tea, but don't hold that against it. Mints bloomed on square stems.

Each day, I'm amazed by my perpetual incompetence as a human being. I narrated a tour on the Pelican Breeze cruising on Albert Lea Lake. The boat overflowed with fine folks. I pointed out catalpa, bur oak and basswood trees. A nice fellow asked what another name for a basswood was. I had a brain cramp. I knew the name, but couldn't think of it. I was a loser in my own personal game of Jeopardy. Aaarrrggghhh!

Nouns can be ephemeral. It’s the American linden. They grow from the Iowa border north to the Canadian border in Minnesota. Basswood leaves are easy to recognize. They are large and heart-shaped, four to six inches long. They are dark green above and light green below, and edged with coarse teeth. In June, when it comes into bloom, the trees are loaded with clusters of fragrant, creamy-white flowers that perfume an area and attract pollinators. It's an excellent source of honey. I remembered everything but its name. We're directed to be humble. How can we be anything else?

Things to look for

1. Ponds covered with duckweed, which is a tiny, flowering plant.

2. Barn swallows gather on utility wires. They are the swallows with swallow tails.

3. Goldenrods, purple loosestrife, asters, Joe-pye weed and Jerusalem artichoke bloom.

4. Common nighthawks migrate overhead, appearing to have holes in their angled wings.

5. The gray, silken tents of fall webworms form in hardwood trees. They feed on leaves.

Echoes from Loafers' Club

My wife went shoe shopping.


Why? She already owns a pair of shoes.

Driving by Bruce's drive

I have a wonderful neighbor, named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me, such as: I don't have a tattoo. Many people I know have them — family members included, but I lack the desire to acquire one. I have some "kinda" tattoos — evidence of accidents, stupidity and medical procedures. A woman told me her religion forbids tattoos because we're supposed to be satisfied with the bodies we're given. Maybe we're supposed to be, but we try to gild the lily. Gym memberships, earrings, plastic surgeries, etc. Where is the line drawn? What tattoo could you live with, your religion permitting? I'm thinking my tattoo would be: "Please recycle," "Here I am" or "It could be worse."

A traveling man

I was clueless, but ambitious. When I wanted to be a Boy Scout, my motto was to always be prepared to be a Boy Scout. I got a merit badge in wanting to be a Boy Scout. It didn't work out. It was a considerable drive to the meetings and they would interfere with farm chores. The Rolling Stones were right, "You can't always get what you want."

I thought of that when my flight had been canceled. Then my replacement flight was likewise canceled. I spent the night in an airport. I didn't want to, but how many people get to spend a night in such an impressive structure?

Thoughts while trying not to think about pencil sharpeners

If you want to buy time, pay for a repair job by the hour.

If you’re having lunch with someone who is finding it difficult to stick to a diet, tell them in great detail about your colonoscopy.

Enlightenment is knowing where the light switches are.

Customer comments

James Ebeling of Owatonna is a lifelong farmer. When he was a boy, his family milked cows. His brother was 10 years older than James and when the older brother finished high school, the new graduate's hours changed. He didn't often make it to the barn for the morning's milking. James said this of his brother, "He went out a lot, but he didn't get up much."

Marian Bahl of Faribault wrote, “On memory issues. Everyone has them, I'm sure. I liken it to a percolator. All my life, I have been pouring in important stuff (like the coffee grounds) and not-so-important stuff (the water). In went names, addresses, birthdates, names, phone numbers, events, email info, names, recipes, anniversaries . . . and did I mention names?  Later in life, when you try to recover those things, it's like waiting for it to come percolating to the top. (Insert the bubbling sound from that old coffee commercial - bloop a bloop a bloop bloop.) If you are patient and wait long enough, eventually it will come perking up and - voila - you remember!”

Ask Al

“What do you do in your hometown for excitement?”

We don’t get that excited.

"How can I become more patient?"

Wait for it.

"What has life taught you?"

That I don't know very much.

Nature notes

I watched an eastern kingbird, Tyrannus tyrannus, attack crows. The kingbird was outnumbered five to one, but it chased the crows away. There was no subtlety to its attack. It was tenacious.

A hummingbird’s brain makes up 4.2% of its weight, the largest of any bird proportionately. Our brains are 2% of our weight and half of them are filled with cat videos.

I saw a black and yellow, cicada killer wasp. Cicada killer females can be about two inches long, males about half that. The males have no stingers. The females can sting, but aren’t inclined to do so. Females sting cicadas with a paralyzing toxin and carry them to burrows in sandy or loose soils. They lay one egg on a cicada in a nest chamber. A second or third cicada is often added, because female larvae are larger than males and require more food. The chamber is sealed and the egg hatches. The larva consumes the cicadas before spinning a cocoon and overwintering underground. It emerges as an adult in July or August and lives two to six weeks.

Henderson Hummingbird Hurrah

Birds, bees, butterflies, blooms, gardens and hummingbird banding will be held in handsome Henderson, Minn., on Saturday, Aug. 17, from 9 to 4. I'll see you there.

Thanks for stopping by

“If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.” — President Lyndon B. Johnson

“The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.” — Ernest Hemingway

Meeting adjourned

“Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust and hostility to evaporate.” – Albert Schweitzer


© Al Batt 2019