Area rain gauges getting a workout this summer

Cow slobbers, or spiderwort, have flowers bloom early in the day, then wilt into a jelly-like substance. Wort comes from the Anglo-Saxon wyrt meaning "herb" or "root," and spider derives either from a belief that they’d cure spider bites or the spidery shape of its stamens. AL BATT/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
By : 
Al Batt
For the Birds

There hasn’t been a rain gauge big enough to hold all the precipitation we’d been receiving. That’s why it was a surprise to find there wasn’t a drop in the rain gauge. I called Ripley’s, but they didn’t believe it. We hadn’t missed a rain since Shep was a pup. If you had saved for a rainy day, you’re likely broke by now. It’s time for you to float a loan. 

I drove on I-35 during a torrential downpour. Pulling over to the side of the road was difficult and might not have been a good idea. There were six cars ahead of me with their four-way flashers on. In Minnesota, hazard lights aren’t permitted while driving except to indicate a traffic hazard. The same law applies in Iowa. No matter, lights were flashing like a discount disco.

I was driving slowly, at a reasonable speed according to the conditions, but glacier-like when compared to the normal speed of automobiles on that interstate highway. 

Headlights came directly at me. That’s not a good thing unless you’re lost in the desert. A car in the northbound lane (I was headed south) came right at me. It hit the guardrail separating our lanes hard. Thank goodness for the good work done by that divider. Pieces of that auto flew over my car. The car climbed up onto the rail, but somehow avoided overturn.

The guardrail wasn’t that tall. I’d wished that it had been 20-feet in height. The driver was probably trying to use his cellphone to take a photo of all those hazard lights. An odd thing was that I’d received an email spam that morning that began with, ”If you are still alive, please contact us.”

The song says that every time it rains, it rains pennies from heaven. I’ve noticed that every time it rains, it rains rain. When I was a sneaky, mischievous child, I and a buddy played the rain gauge game. We had a neighbor who considered himself the official arbiter as far as rain amounts were concerned. He might have pontificated a bit too much, as we determined that we’d knock him off his lofty perch. After each rain, we’d pour a little water into his gauge or dump a little out. It was a cruel thing to do and I regret it now, but it was funny at the time. His rainfall totals became inaccurate at best. 

Echoes from Loafers’ Club

Have you seen my wife? 

No. I don’t even know what your wife looks like. 

Then how do you know you haven’t seen her?

Leaving a hotel room

I try to maintain an attitude of gratitude. My mother said that I could never thank anyone too much. It becomes a habit. As I left a hotel in Ames, Iowa, I thanked the room. 

I’d almost shut the door, when I decided to do an idiot check. You have probably done that in one endeavor or another. In this case, I walked back into the room and looked around like a big idiot, searching for something I might have forgotten. I found a penny. It was good luck. Getting out the door was nice. In the car, the GPS told me where to go. I may not always have a plan, but I always have a path.

Nature notes

The wind played music on the trees. A great horned owl flew up from a rural road ahead of the car. It had likely been hunting a rodent such as a vole. Voles are the potato chips of the wild. They have so many predators, they have to be nervous critters.

I had read an article in "Living Bird," the magazine of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, that a barn owl might eat more than 11,000 mice in its lifetime. It went on to say that those mice would have consumed 13 tons of crops. Nice work by that owl.

At home, I listened to a saucy blue jay. I’ve learned that describing a bird’s song or call is akin to describing a wine. Not everyone hears the same in a bird’s song or tastes the same thing in a wine.

I watched as a father oriole fed a begging baby. The fledgling and the females are less adorned in colorful feathers than a male Baltimore oriole. I spent quality time watching birds spending quality time.

I was birding and looking at flowers. Spiderwort is such a lovely flower. Cow slobbers is what I called it when I was a boy because the flowers bloom early in the day, then wilt into a jelly-like substance. The striking flowers appear in small clusters, with new buds opening each day. Wort comes from the Anglo-Saxon wyrt meaning "herb" or "root," and spider derives either from a belief that they’d cure spider bites or the spidery shape of its stamens.

The guy from just down the road 

My neighbor Crandall stops by. 

“How are you doing?” I ask.

“Everything is nearly copacetic. Ma and Pop’s wedding anniversary is on the horizon. They wanted to get married right out of high school, but Pop wanted to buy a farm first. It took him 10 years to save up enough money to do that. That was a good thing.”

“How was that a good thing?” I wonder aloud.

“Because if they’d gotten married right out of school, I’d be 10 years older. I had a visitor from Minneapolis who said she wanted to paint my barn. I was getting ready to haggle when she explained that she wanted to make a painting of it. I told her to knock herself out. She asked what kind of cows mine were. I told her that they were a rare breed of natural weather predictors. Of course, she asked me what I meant by that. I explained that when the cows are standing, it means no rain is likely for the next 24 hours. And when they’re lying down, it means it’s going to rain within in a day. There is always one more question and hers was, ‘Half your herd is standing and the other half is lying down. What does that mean?’“ 

“That’s a good question,“ I interject.

“And I had the perfect answer for her. It meant half of the cows were wrong." 

Thanks for stopping by

“But solitude is only a human presumption. Every quiet step is thunder to beetle life underfoot; every choice is a world made new for the chosen. All secrets are witnessed.” — Barbara Kingsolver

“Years ago I had a Buddhist teacher in Thailand who would remind all his students that there was always something to be thankful for. He’d say, ‘Let’s rise and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we may have learned a little. And if we didn’t learn even a little, at least we didn’t get sick. And if we did get sick, at least we didn’t die. So let us all be thankful.’” — Leo Buscaglia

Meeting adjourned

Be kind and give your smile to someone without one.


© Al Batt 2018