Archived Story

Cutting right the heart of the ‘hoodie hoo’

Published 9:31am Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Column: Tales from Exit 22, by Al Batt

I’m thinking of trading my car in for a sandhill crane.

Everything would be better with a crane.

My wife likes to dance much more than I do.

Cranes love to dance. A crane could fill that danceless slack time for my wife.

Having my very own crane would be better than having snow tires.

My mother told me that I should never cut ahead of anyone in line. Nobody would like me if I did. If I had a crane, I suspect people would insist that I move to the head of a line.

I know people who have lived with great horned owls, blue jays, nighthawks and red-tailed hawks. I have shared an abode with an American kestrel and a red-winged blackbird, among other birds.

In college, I lived with a number of strange birds and odd ducks.

I was in central Nebraska looking at cranes last March. I was there because it was the place to be. Much of the success in birding can be attributed to knowing where to be. I was where the cranes were.

A lot of life’s triumphs come from knowing simple secrets like that. It’s like the time the Baptist minister and the Lutheran pastor were sharing a small fishing boat. They didn’t attempt to bully their beliefs onto the other, but they did give one another good-natured jabs. They were anchored near a spit of land just big enough to hold a tree. It was that tree the Baptist minister caught when he cast his line. It grasped a branch of the tree firmly. The Baptist minister wasn’t anxious to cut the line. The hook on the end had been passed down to him by his cherished grandfather. The Lutheran pastor sized up the situation by saying, “No problem.”

With that said, the Lutheran walked upon the water to the tree, where he untangled his friend’s fish line.

“That’s incredible!” exclaimed the Baptist.

“It was nothing,” replied the Lutheran.

“Nothing?” said the Baptist. “You call walking on water nothing? You have amazing powers.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that,” said the humble Lutheran. “The secret is knowing where the rocks are.”

Back to the birds.

I saw two red-tailed hawks perched side-by-side on a branch on Valentine’s Day last year. It gave me one of those warm, fuzzy feelings to see the two raptors involved in a bit of pair bonding.

The weather has been windy. Only the winds on Neptune surpass those at the end of my driveway.

At noon Feb. 20, my wife and I run outside (me running sans socks) no matter how windy or cold it is, and wave our hands over our heads, shouting, “Hoodie hoo!” Living the dream. We’re not normal, but we do this because this is what scares winter away. If we didn’t do this, winter would never leave. Doing the “hoodie hoo” has worked every year. Winter has always ended — sooner or later.

We are a good team. We work well together. Not only when it comes to hoodie-hooing, but when it comes to drawers, kitchen and otherwise. She leaves them open. I close them. I suppose that if I were the kind who left them open, she’d be one who closed them.

Back in the day, I gave a Valentine’s Day card to everyone in my grade school classroom. That constituted two grades—about 30 kids. One year, I decided to save money and make my own cards. It wasn’t difficult. I copied things I’d read on store-bought cards. I recall a handmade card that I gave to one girl. She was nice and I wanted to be nice in return. It was going to be my Sgt. Pepper’s. I had drawn a nice red heart (I loved her with all my art) and had written in my best penmanship, which wasn’t anything to write home about, “Roses are red. Violets are blue. Sugar is sweet. But not as sweat as you.”

She was unhappy with me and reported me to the teacher. I had needed spell check.

I had my pencil-sharpening privileges canceled.

I should have written, “Best of luck to you in your future endeavors.”

The girl was nice enough to give me a card in return, but she didn’t sign it.

On Valentine’s Day, which I celebrate on Feb. 15 because candy and flowers are half-price then, I will say this to the lovely woman with whom I’ve shared a hamper for years.

“Knock, knock.”

She’ll say, “Who’s there?”


“Olive, who?”

“Olive you.”


Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.