You can look at an eagle for a long time
“Which is better, one or two?”
I wasn’t a jam judge at the county fair. I was having an eye exam. The optometrist asked me repeatedly which of the two lens choices improved my vision.
I couldn’t tell and never can. I picked one by doing a “One, two, sky blue, all out except you” in my head.
I want splendid vision and I appreciate those with splendid visions for the future.
Big plane, little plane, ferry. It was more of an arduous journey than it looked and it looked difficult.
My wife had sent me off with a Twinkie with the shelf life of infinity. I ate it as I journeyed to Haines, Alaska, where the rainforest does the chicken dance with the tundra. I had humbition, a subtle blend of humility and ambition. When I hit Southeast Alaska, I hope to see mew gulls because no mews is bad mews. The North American Classification Committee of the American Ornithological Society changed its name to the short-billed gull. “No short-billeds is bad mews” doesn’t provide the same drollery.
It’s not the number of breaths we take that matters, it’s what takes our breath away. Haines takes my breath away; it has a black belt in beauty. It’s good for the eyes. It’s impossible to lose interest in something both intimate and immense. I never hear a groan of familiarity around mountains and fjords.
People come to Haines to get close to an eagle. In 1917, the Alaska Territorial Legislature established a bounty of 50 cents to $2 for each pair of eagle feet. That legislature removed the bounty in 1953 because there was no evidence eagles were depleting salmon populations, but over 128,000 eagles had been killed. Alaska became a state in 1959 and bald eagles fell under the protection of the National Bald Eagle Act.
You don’t get to Haines by making a wrong turn at the end of your driveway. Travel plans change with the vagaries of Alaska’s weather. Flights and ferries are canceled because of visibility. Punting is required and it’s no use arguing with the weather. I don’t complain because of Dave Olerud, originally from Boyd, Minnesota. Dave and his wife came to Alaska to teach. He convinced me that visiting Haines would change my life. He was right. In the movie “Field of Dreams,” Iowa farmer Ray (Kevin Costner) hears a mysterious voice in his Iowa cornfield saying, “If you build it, he will come.” That’s not normal. The last time a cornfield talked to me was never. Despite taunts of lunacy, Ray builds a baseball diamond on his land. The ghosts of great players came from the field to play ball, led by Shoeless Joe Jackson. Dave didn’t listen to a cornfield, but he must have seen “Field of Dreams” before it was filmed. At a time when we saw our bald eagles on TV (“Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom”) as Marlin Perkins told us that just as an eagle protects its young, we should, too, with a policy from Mutual of Omaha while every biting and stinging insect known to science attacked Jim Fowler, Dave founded the American Bald Eagle Foundation (ABEF), a nonprofit organization created in 1982 to protect local populations of bald eagles, preserve their habitat and boost the economy of Haines. The Foundation has a museum, a raptor center and the Alaska Bald Eagle Festival in November.
Eagle watchers congregate on the flats of the Chilkat River along the Haines Highway. Bald eagles are attracted to the area by the spawned-out salmon in the water late in the year because parts of the Chilkat remain open due to an alluvial fan, which causes an upwelling of warmer water. Salmon runs occur in these ice-free areas and their carcasses feed the eagles. Eagles, ravens, gulls, mergansers, swans, Steller’s jays, dippers, crows and magpies bring sensory delights. The talkative eagles are tolerant of photographers and birders.
During the construction of ABEF’s building in 1987, a collapsing wall fell on Dave, paralyzing him from the waist down. He’s been in a wheelchair since then, but his vision for the ABEF endured.
I’ve now traveled to Haines many times and the ABEF persists.
Dave Olerud saw that coming.
©Al Batt 2022
1. What member of the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame was nicknamed “The Greek God of Walks” because of his patience at the plate?
2. How many times was Houston Texans quarterback David Carr sacked during the 2002 season?
3. What annual motorsports event in Colorado is known as “The Race to the Clouds”?
4. The Avco World Trophy was awarded to the season champion of what professional ice hockey league that operated from 1972-79?
5. Name the Lithuanian immigrant who adapted basketball rules for women in the late 1800s and was the first woman inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1985?
6. Name the brothers who played center in the NFL and were both on the New Orleans Saints’ roster in 1993.
7. What driver beat Kurt Busch by 0.002 seconds — the closest margin of victory in NASCAR Cup Series history — at the 2003 Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 at Darlington Raceway?
1. Kevin Youkilis.
2. 76, an NFL record.
3. The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.
4. The World Hockey Association.
5. Senda Berenson Abbott.
6. Jay and Joel Hilgenberg.
7. Ricky Craven.
© 2022 King Features Synd., Inc.
Iowa football’s youth movement blended nicely with veterans Spencer Petras, defenders Jack Campbell, Riley Moss and John Waggoner and the booming punts of Tory Taylor on Saturday as the Hawkeyes weathered three lengthy lightning delays before posting a 27-0 victory over the Nevada Wolf Pack at Kinnick Stadium. The Hawks improve to 2-1 behind another air tight effort by the defense which posted its first shutout since 2019. The offense broke through with 337 total yards, rushing for 162. True freshman Kaleb Johnson galloped for 103 yards on just 7 attempts and had touchdown runs of 40 and 55 yards. Much maligned quarterback Petras completed 14-26 passes for 175 yards and a score to receiver Arland Bruce. The Hawkeyes totaled 316 yards and 14 points the first two games but got healthier Saturday with the return of receivers Keegan Johnson, Nico Ragaini and Brody Brecht and #1 running back Gavin Williams.
Hawkeye safety Cooper DeJean intercepted a pass and the Iowa defense sacked Nevada quarterback Shane Illingworth four times.
Punter Tory Taylor continued his torrid streak with seven punts that averaged 47 yards. Four of those were downed inside the 20.
Saturday’s game included three lightning delays totaling just under four hours.
In the end, it was a three phase victory and well timed with the Big Ten schedule straight ahead. Iowa travels to Rutgers for another Saturday night affair this week. Hopefully the weather cooperates.
My Mom Pinned A Note To My Shirt!
One day, recently, grandpa and some friends were talking about “nicknames” and how they get started. The reasons a person can acquire a nickname range from the logical to the ludicrous! Grandpa has three: They are “Abe,” “Rod” and “Digger.” “Rod” I picked up while playing baseball and “Digger” much later in life. I’m going to tell you how and why the first one came about, (“Abe” or “Abie”), because I was YOUR AGE when I acquired it.
When grandpa was five years old (like you are now, Maury,) there were no super markets. Every neighborhood had a grocery store and a butcher shop. The grocery sold only groceries and the butcher shop only meats! The butcher shop in our neighborhood was less than a half block from our house. The owner and his assistant were very friendly, allowing me to enter their shop through the back door which caused me to end up behind the counter. All the “grown up” customers used the regular front entrance to the shop. As I think back, Maury, this made me feel kind of “special!”
Saturday was always the busiest day of the week for this meat market.
Grandpa remembers people, sometimes in four lines, waiting for their turn to order. It seems (I didn’t know why) people bought the meats they wanted for the entire week ahead. Also, most people charged what they bought and paid their neighborhood butcher monthly.
Grandpa remembers his mom (your great grandmother) pinning a note with her order on my shirt, parking my red wagon by the back door of the shop, walking in and standing at the end but behind the counter. I’d patiently stand there until “Skinny” Steckle, the young assistant butcher, would “unpin” the note from my shirt and start preparing what my mom ordered. He always called me “Abie” because of my last name, which he pronounced “Aberhardt” instead of “Eberhardt.” (Later I was told this is the German pronunciation). One day some of my friends from kindergarten hearing this, quickly picked up on it, and started calling me “Abie” which soon evolved into “Abe.” Many people today still call me “Abe.”
Another example of the crazy way nicknames start is a boyhood friend whose real name is “Albert.” Today he’s still called “Basil” or “Bas.” Grandpa caused this because at age thirteen both of us had newspaper routes, and one day a picture of a nationally known gangster, “Basil” Banghart, whom I thought “looked like” Al, appeared on the front page. I started calling Al “Basil,” as did the rest of the carriers, and the nick name stuck!
Much love, Grandpa.