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This isn’t San Juan Capistrano, and these are not swallows

By Staff | Jun 9, 2008

You’ll learn that when I am stumped on what to write for this column, I fall back on two reliable topics.

No, it is not politics and religion. It is weather and animals.

Now, the weather is a little interesting lately. It has been the coldest and wettest spring that I can remember for a while.

Although, to be honest, I do remember one spring that was so wet that farmers in western Minnesota were planting seeds by spraying them out of a helicopter.

This year most of them finally got the crop in, although it might have been a week or so late.

There never really was a spring, was there? There would be a nice day or two, and then wham! Back to cold and wet.

This is now June and it still is doing the same thing. This past week has been cold and wet again. When it gets sunny and near 80 degrees we celebrate, but that should be the norm for this time of year, shouldn’t it?

People are not doing their spring activities very much. Here are a couple of examples to prove that statement.

I went golfing on Saturday morning at the Riverside Town and Country Club golf course. It was a beautiful morning. But there were very few folks out there golfing.

That could have to do with the fact that Highway 169 is closed past the course, but I think it has to do with people not in the summer mood yet.

Later that same day I talked to Duane Gartzke at Gartzke’s Greenhouse. Last year, he said, he couldn’t keep up with demand. This year he has a lot of selection left, because people have not been planting as much. Maybe they still will, after the weather straightens out.

If it ever does.

It sure seems as though every week there are more storms, not just here, but across the whole nation. There are tornadoes somewhere, every week.I heard that we are on a record pace for the tornadoes this year.

One person who purchased a hanging flower basket at Gartzke’s was local dentist Dr. John Sawyer. He hangs one every year in front of the window of his downtown dentist office.

And every year, a pair of wrens builds a nest in the basket. Every year. For10 years.

Can that be the same pair of birds, year after year? I have no idea, but I do know that the swallows return to the same nests in the mission at San Juan Capistrano, California every year, after wintering 6,000 miles south in Argentina.

This year, Dr. Sawyer was late getting the basket purchased and hung up, because, as I previously noted, the weather was cold and rainy and it didn’t feel like spring.

He finally had to go and get the basket because (are you ready for this?) the birds demanded it. You read that right. Demanded it.

It seems that they flew around the window constantly, and even buzzed clients around the doorway.

Sawyer says they looked in the window and seemed to be asking “Where the heck is our nesting basket?”

So he got it and hung it and they built it and laid eggs in it. Six of them to be exact. The eggs hatched and the baby birds are doing alright. Not only are they getting fed, they have a very colorful and fragrant home to live in.

I hope the story has a happy ending, when they try and leave the nest.

Another animal story this week also has a happy ending.

While reading the BEA High School daily bulletin a week ago, I noticed an interesting item, and thought I should pursue the story.

It seems that Mr. Schoenfelder’s chemistry class was requesting the help of the entire student body.

Sometime over the Memorial Day weekend their class mascot, Maurey the Mole, had been mole-napped.

They offered a reward for information leading to his safe return.

I contacted Mr. Schoenfelder to find out if there really was a varmint on the loose and running around the school. Not really, he said.

It seems that Maurey the Mole is a little stuffed toy mole. Schoenfelder said that the same mole-napping crime happened last year, complete with ransom note. He was safely returned both years.

He added that he uses the mole as a visual aid when he discusses moles in chemistry. It seems a mole is a form of measurement.

I pretended to know what a mole is. The truth is, I had no clue.

But after a quick Google search I learned that a mole is the amount of a pure substance containing the same number of chemical units as there are atoms in exactly 12 grams of carbon-12.


Now I remember why it was that I flunked chemistry and became a journalist instead of a scientist.