A season of lilacs, tangled roots, Monkeypox, and ashes spread on farmland

What does one do on Tuesday, the 24th of May? Why, the best thing to do is go to the Old Men of the Mountain breakfast at the Your Way Café in Schoharie.

At breakfast, this tidbit piece of information was brought up. The Mohawk Indian word for “driftwood” is Schoharie. This was added to the conversation because one OF was showing how large and entangled a root system was under a tree the OF had cut down. The OF was saying he thought it would be simple to use his tractor and haul the stump away.

That turned into more of a chore because the size of the root system was as large as a small house and gave more of a battle than the OF counted on. Along with the show and tell of removing the roots, and showing pictures of the process and the final root system, the chatter was coupled with a side conversation of class reunions.

One OF mentioned the roots looked like a pile of driftwood. So discussing class reunions and driftwood in one tower of babble, an OF offhandedly added to the cacophony of words in the air on multiple topics.

For instance: “Did you know the Indian word for ‘driftwood’ is Schoharie?”

That is all the OF said and the conversations just kept rolling on.


The spring of lilacs  

One OF mentioned that it looks like this is going to be the spring of the lilacs. This OF asked the ambiguous question, “Has anyone noticed how prolific the lilacs are this year? Every bush is loaded with flowers, and I have seen bushes of lilacs where I haven’t seen them before.”

There was just a little lull, and another OF answered for everyone else. The OF was right. Lilacs do seem to be in full bloom this spring.

One OF mentioned, along with the lilacs, that for some reason this OF noticed this year how much contrast there is, not only on the hillsides, but in the fields and yards, with the color green between the different types of trees.

Another OF said it may be because the air was cleaner when the OF noticed the sharpness of color. Could be.


Anderson’s driveway

Many people, OFs or not, travel Route 88 (also known as the late Senator Warren Anderson’s private driveway) when traveling southwest of the Albany/Schenectady area. The OFs discussed how this highway seems to traverse a section of the state where the prevailing winds blow right across the road.

In bad weather, the OFs who use it frequently commented that it is a good road to stay off of, especially in the winter time. Route 7 may take longer but, in cases of bad weather, one OF said, it sure is safer.

Some OFs began relating accidents and incidents they saw, or just missed while on this stretch of road in bad weather. One OF said, compared to the Northway and the Thruway, this road is, just as advertised, like his own personal driveway — there are so few cars on it. At times, the OF said, there are sections of the road which makes him feel like he is the only one on it.

Another OF complained that in sections Route 88 is rougher than a rutted dirt road. This OF inquired if there are so few vehicles on it, how come it gets so beat up?

None of the OFs seemed to know but also had to agree to that. However, one OF suggested it may have something to do with the unusual weather that keeps pounding the road. Could be.


Current events

The OFs discussed Monkeypox. The OFs thought the way they understand how it is transmitted: As OFs, they are beyond catching the disease.

One OF suggested that the way things are going now, the best thing to do is stay home and have as many provisions as you can delivered. Go shopping and get mugged or shot; go to a ball game, or a show, and wind up with COVID. It is not worth it.

Then there is the cost of just getting to wherever. A round trip to Saratoga or Lake George is going to cost fifty, sixty, or even seventy bucks just in fuel.

Stay home and have a cookout with the neighbors in walking distance until there becomes some sense of normalcy returning to this planet and Satan returns to his fiery realm.


Ashes to ashes

One OF told a story that had a familiar ring to it, but this one is for real because the OF knows those involved and he was part of it.

The OF had a friend who passed away. This friend had at one time a large farm and his own dairy. Farming, as most of the OFs know from experience, became a lost cause, so many deserted the business.

So did this farmer friend of the OF. One of the conditions of the farmer’s final requests was to have his ashes spread on the manure spreader and covered with a specific wood chip to protect the ashes and then take them to a field and spread over the land.

This type of story has been around for a long time but few have ever participated in this procedure. Apparently at this time most of the OFs know it was done, and who the OF was who took part in it. That’s what good friends are for.

The Old Men of the Mountain brave enough to gather and have breakfast out, and meet each other at the Your Way Café in Schoharie were: Roger Shafer, Doug Marshall, Miner Stevens, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Wally Guest, Otis Lawyer, Ted Feurer, Wayne Gaul, Rick LaGrange, Marty Herzog, Pete Whitbeck, Jake Herzog, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Duncan Bellinger, Johnny Dap, Paul Guiton,  Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rev. Jay Francis, and me.