Echoes of the Loafers’ Club meeting
Can I ask a stupid question?
Can you ever.
Drive by Bruce Drive
I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Every time I walk past his reader, thoughts come to mind. Every day I make it a point to notice something I hadn’t noticed before. A friend invited me to dinner. I was between meals, so I agreed. When I arrived at the restaurant, I noticed that I was being offered a surprise retirement party. It was a big surprise for me. I did not retire from part-time work. They gave me a lovely meal, a nifty plate and lots of kind words. I think they thought my poor health at the time would prevent me from continuing. I asked them if they were referring. They said “no”, but I have to ask myself questions. I keep the plate.
I worked in Germany, field testing Zeiss binoculars. They tested well. I spoke to a German about anti-German jokes as we watched white storks nesting on the roof of a house. An ancient belief is that a nesting stork protects a home from fire, lightning, and other natural disasters. The anti-joking discussion started after he said, “What’s the difference between a stork?” Both legs are the same length, especially the left. “Two storks were flying over a house. One of them said, ‘Hello.’ “Two men were walking down the street. A man tripped and broke his arm. The other man was called Ernst. I added two. “There were two storks on a roof. One said, “This roof needs new shingles. The other said, ‘Oh my God, a talking stork!’ “What happens if you throw a red stone into the Black Sea?” He will get wet.
Time brought the artillery. An angry golf ball sized hail had hit my car while I was working in the St. Cloud area in May. The windshields and rear windows of other cars had to be replaced. It wasn’t dental floss with barbed wire, but it was disturbing. The good thing about hail is—I guess there’s nothing good about hail unless you work in auto glass repair and replacement. A vehicle from an auto glass company had oversized mud flaps intended to prevent its rear tires from throwing rocks. They weren’t doing business.
A swallow passed in a low voice. Accompanied by the hum of bumblebees, the whirl of white cabbage and mourning cloak butterflies and the sting of dragonflies (the first ones I see each spring are common green rappers and variegated meadow hawks), I I bent down to take a closer look at the spring ephemera. Plants are familiar neighbors. I welcomed them as if they were old friends. Fiddleheads, the tightly coiled tips of ferns, proliferated. They are named for their resemblance to the coiled decoration at the end of stringed instruments.
A good number of palm warblers led me down a trail and yellow rumped warblers were busy in all the other trees. Other warblers – Nashville, American redstart, Tennessee, orange-crowned, black-and-white, and yellow were here and there. A single Cape Warbler brightened the day. Scarlet tanagers were ornaments in the trees and ruby-crowned kinglets, crowned with fireworks, used megaphones to make their loud sounds. Spotted sandpipers were plentiful along the water’s edge. My father called them pendulums. Forster’s tern calls “ki-arr” came from all directions. The mudflats were occupied by pectoral sandpipers and both species of yellow redhorse. I walked with Bob Janssen from Golden Valley. Bob is Minnesota’s godfather of birding. We saw a Cooper’s hawk (the “chicken hawk” of my youth when I tried to make millions raising exotic breeds of tiny chickens) harass three red-headed vultures with menacing flight maneuvers and a long series of calls cak-cak-cak. A Cooper’s hawk was on the ground in my yard, hiding in the tangles, hoping to ambush a bird. I saw a solitary sandpiper at the edge of a cow pasture and a green heron in a lakeside park. I watched pelicans fishing together on a lake. The birds in the back of the feed group flew forward to get a better place in the buffet line. The pelicans were jumping and fishing.
As I drove, it was impossible for me to ignore the chartreuse color of the weeping willows. Saw a red-tailed hawk swoop down on a northern harrier hunting close to the ground. There was no contact, but the harrier fled. A good idea.
The multicolored Asian ladybugs have found my garage to their liking.
“Neither genius, nor glory, nor love show the greatness of the soul. Only kindness can do that. – Jean-Baptiste-Henri Lacordaire.