Of chainsaws, wet birds and salty nuts

Maybe the euphoria of a season sweep of the Patriots is clouding my mind, but suddenly I find plenty of blessings to count as we head into the New Year.

• Chainsaws. I might not have survived 2020 without Stihl chainsaws and a timber filled with trees that need tending. The most notable discovery this year came from a blowndown box elder that yielded a copious amount of candy cane logs – with bright red streaks running through the split wood. We may use some of the box elder logs for bowls or other decorative items.

• Vaccines. Residents of Farmington Country Manor were vaccinated for COVID-19 Monday. Keep the cure coming! We need to force Gov. Pritzker to let us get back to normal.

• Birds. Once upon a time, I thought only loony old people cared about watching birds from inside their homes. No longer. Now I realize that being able to appreciate something as trivial as a bird bath full of feathers is actually a blessing. Or, perhaps, I am just becoming a loony old person. Either way, one of the best gifts under the tree this year was the bird bath heater my wife received. Now, on even the coldest mornings, our birds always have at least a small spot of open water.

• The big red iron bar. My greatest gift is still the 5-foot, solid iron bar I bought a few decades ago. That bad boy is always clutch for busting concrete, tearing up stumps or for any other job where brute force is required. But the bar may need a new blaze orange paint job because, as the original paint has worn way, old reliable red has developed a remarkable skill at going missing.

• The NFL. Even COVID-19 couldn’t derail the NFL, which is above the law in so many ways. Thank goodness. While it’s sad to see empty stadiums, televised NFL games have filled a huge entertainment void.

• Nuts. My favorite words of advice from a doctor are “eat more almonds.” Fortunately, my selective hearing does not pick up on secondary instructions about “unsalted almonds.” Smokehouse almonds are just so much better than their bland counterparts – much the same way that dry roasted peanuts are so much better than plain or even salted peanuts.

• Trailers. My philosophy used to be that towing anything behind a truck was a headache waiting to happen. But since convincing my sons they needed a trailer for their mowing business (which they have not used, but did pay for), my life has been so much richer. I now find myself inventing reasons to haul things.

• Catan. Yes, I’ve written about this board game before, but any game that can generate this much joy deserves another mention. We have added several expansions to the original game (which I would be content to play for a few more years) and are currently enjoying “Legend of the Sea Robbers.” We have also enjoyed “Seafarers,” but I find “Cities and Knights” too complicated.

• Puppies. A hunting season without a dog is like almonds without salt, enjoyable, but slightly lacking. Thank goodness Russ and Janice Nash of Elmwood and Bill and Becky Hennenfent of rural Gilson matched up their dogs for a timely litter of pups. And thanks to all who helped convince my wife that we need another dog. Our pup arrives Jan. 9, after which joyful chaos will descend on our home. Family members are still discussing names, which is funny. They can call the pup whatever they want. His name, like all other male dogs I’ve named is Buck. “Call of the Wild” sealed that.

• 2021. Despite all of these wonderful blessings, next year has to be better than 2020.

Contact Jeff Lampe at (309) 231-6040 or jeff@wklypost.com