The smell of smoke in the air is no longer nostalgic

July 18, The Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh. Quite often the OMOTM discuss the ride to the eating place of that Tuesday.

This past Tuesday morning, it was a little unusual. Not too often do the OFs say the ride over was at times miserable because of the drizzle, fog, and smoke — smoke; that is new.

Some said they could smell the smoke inside the car. This is not unusual because during the fall and winter when the air is heavy it is possible to smell the smoke from the homes that burn wood, or have outdoor furnaces and the smoke from these heating devices waft across the road and can be noticed in the car. This, though, is short and sometimes is nostalgic or at times will make the OF hungry.

One OF thought the smell of burning leaves in the fall is also very nostalgic and the OF really enjoyed burning them; now we are not supposed to burn our leaves. Now we are supposed to mulch them someplace, and in the towns put lawn rakings in bags or rake them to the curb, and city or town will pick them up.

Now raking leaves is nothing but work, all the fun is gone. One OF said we pay more taxes so the municipalities can pick up the leaves and now we can live longer with more aches and pains and pay more taxes.


Feline focus

Many (and that is a good word) of the OMOTM have or have had cats, or at least one cat. Some mentioned just one or two to others with dozens.

Cats, according to some of the OFs, can be friends or just a plain ole pain in the butt. The range of a cat’s affections can go from super friendly to don’t mess with me, and feral.

One OF asked questions and told of an experience at the same time. The question was: Why do cats love boxes? That question just got a bunch of shrugged shoulders for an answer.

The other question was how to use boxes to catch feral cats without them running away or clawing the catcher to pieces.

The OFs said to just place boxes out, it was not said when but the OFs feel it is safe to say when the cats are visible and around (and it was not said whether a little food was placed in each box or not) and watch the cats. They will examine the box and eventually jump in, curl up and lay down.

Then the OF should stealthily amble up to the box and close the lid. Bingo, the scrappy feline is caught. 

This may or may not work. Cats are not the easiest animal to catch if they do not want to be caught. Quite often, if something is really hard to do, it is referred to as “trying to herd cats.”


Longer lives

Our aging society is beginning to show up in groups like the Old Men of the Mountain. One OF thought that is why there is such a concern with nursing homes and homes for the elderly.

The OFs thought that in previous years people died off at an earlier age before they were all crippled up with arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and other ailments that require a ton of care which homeowners can’t provide even if they wanted to and could.

This scribe checked out that the average age for a male in 1950 was 65; in 2022, it was 79.5 or almost 80. That gives the OFs 15 more years to get all the ailments that used to put the OFs in the “home.”

On the flip side, that is 15 more years of beautiful sunrises and sunsets, watching the kids grow, contributing your accrued knowledge not only from education, but life itself, on to society so the average end of life can become still older and better.

It may be smart to invest at both ends of living: Manufacture items for babies and toddlers like strollers, and car seats and then, at the other end, manufacture items like rollators, wheelchairs, and hospital beds.


Lake picnic

For some years, one OF has offered the use of his camp as a location for an OMOTM picnic. This has turned into an annual event.

On July 19, the OFs had their “annual” picnic at this OF’s place. This outing includes the OMOTM and their wives or significant others.

This camp on Warner Lake sits right on the water and is very private. Close to the camp is a huge cedar tree where many of the OFs circled in the shade of this tree told stories and passed on misinformation, or maybe the real stuff, who knows, it all has to be sifted out.

A few of the OFs gathered in the shade of the porch, close to the goodies. Mentioned often was how lucky the group was with the weather. It was a beautiful day; considering the summer so far, this day was one of the rare ones.

The host, who is very gracious in lending the use of his home on the lake, took the OFs out in small groups on his pontoon boat for a leisurely lap around the lake.

As we reported many times before, some of the OMOTM have antique or restored later model vehicles. One OMOTM arrived in his Model-T, which ran better than some newer cars. Others showed up in restored vehicles that would be the envy of any car show.

The whole event went very well; now it is wait until next year.

This scribe is going to tattle on himself here (here-hear); a good example of what happened is in typing “who knows” in this column, when re-reading that section, this scribe saw he had typed “who nose” — ah-hah.

Finding their way to Mrs. K’s in Middleburgh on a smoky, foggy, morning, the Old Men of the Mountain were: Glenn Patterson, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Rick LaGrange, Ed Goff, Marty Herzog, Bill Lichliter, Pete Whitbeck, Frank Fuss, Dan Pellitier, Ken Parks, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, George Washburn, Russ Pokorny, Frank Dees, Gerry Chartier, Rev. Jay Francis, Jake Herzog, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Bob Donnelly, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Paul Guiton, John Dab, and me.