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A story behind lilacs and country roads

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting
 My wife said it was the most disgusting habit I have. 
 What did you say to that? 
 Nothing, but I almost choked on my big toenail I was chewing. 
Driving by Bruce's drive
 I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Deep thoughts occur as I drive past his drive. I drove past Muskrat Lake. “Muskrat Love” was not playing on the radio. The psychologist Carl Jung defined synchronicity as a “meaningful coincidence of two or more events where something other than the probability of chance is involved.” I led a birding trip to Rothsay, where we walked in a wet meadow to see greater prairie chickens. In the tall grass, I saw a phone screen glinting in the sliver of sun the day had given us. Water and sucking mud surrounded it, but the phone had fallen into a rare dry spot. I quickly found the owner. Just as the phone I’d found a week earlier, this one was brand new, too. What have I learned from these experiences? Synchronicity and that new phones want to run away from home. 
 Ken called to say that his father had died. Mickey Nelson of Clarks Grove passed away at the age of 103. I often hear at funerals that someone of Mickey’s age had had a good run. Back when Mickey was a mere 99, he pledged to walk 100 miles before his 100th birthday. He did and raised well over $100,000 for the Salvation Army. Mickey hadn’t just had a good run. He’d had a good walk.
Bad jokes department
 What state is named after a color? Colorado.
 What do you call the bunnies that live in your nose? Nose hares.
 Does our language have a word containing all the vowels? Unquestionably.
 I wanted to become a monk, but I never got the chants.
 What four-member rock group never sings? Mt. Rushmore.
 How do you fix frog legs? With tiny splints.
Advice for the graduates
 Work hard at having good luck and call your mother.
In local news 
 My wife and I attended Austin Kehr’s grad party. Austin was MVP in basketball and track, and an honor student at Belle Plaine. He’s the great-grandson of Viola Rugroden Nolte, a local high school graduate. Austin will be on UMD’s track team.
Nature notes
 Colorful spring birds are part of nature’s sneaky plan to get us to pay attention. A concert performed by whistling rose-breasted grosbeaks thrilled me. Those birds are said to sound like a robin that’s had singing lessons. Scarlet tanagers landed and monarch butterflies fluttered by.
 If you're on a country road and see random lilac bushes, there was likely a house or farm there once. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew lilacs in their gardens. Margaret Millar wrote, “The smell of moist earth and lilacs hung in the air like wisps of the past and hints of the future.”
 Air rushing over the Wilson's snipe's outspread tail feathers creates a haunting hu-hu-hu winnowing sound. They usually produce the sound when they dive.
 I heard, “Look at me. Way up high. Over here. In a tree.” That’s a mnemonic for the red-eyed vireo. According to Guinness World Records, a red-eyed vireo holds the record for singing the most songs, with 22,197 sung in 10 hours.
 Lake Sagatagan, in the St. John’s Abbey Arboretum, has a surface area of 176 acres with a maximum depth of 40-42 feet. A natural kettle or pothole lake with no direct water inputs or outlets, it’s recharged by underground springs plus rain and snow from the surrounding land. The lake was originally called Lake Saint Louis after King Louis of Bavaria and changed to Sagatagan, an Ojibwe word for the punk or fungus outgrowth on trees used for tinder. I walked the trails there and listened blissfully to sandhill cranes calling back and forth and wood thrush singing, “Frito-Lay.” Aldo Leopold described the songs of a crane as, “High horns, low horns, silence, and finally pandemonium of trumpets, rattles, croaks, and cries that almost shakes the bog with its nearness, but without yet disclosing whence it comes.” In Greek mythology, the alphabet was said to have been invented by the god Mercury while observing cranes. Thoreau described the sound of the wood thrush this way, “It lifts and exhilarates me. It is inspiring. It changes all hours to an eternal morning." I took the time to feed the mosquitoes. My blood will grow baby mosquitoes that might bite me someday.
Meeting adjourned
 In “Hey Jude,” sung by The Beatles, the lyrics say, “Hey Jude, don't make it bad. Take a sad song and make it better.”
 That’s pretty good advice. Then The Beatles go on, “Na na na nananana, nannana.”
 That’s where everyone sings along, and that’s when the Nananana to English app on my iPhone comes in handy.
 Those words mean, “Be kind.” Or they should.

 

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