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Tuesday, March 6, the Old Men of the Mountain were still in Schoharie County at the Blue Star restaurant on Main Street, and of course the flood devastation which is still evident in the valley brought up a discussion of the same kind of destruction caused by the recent tornadoes in the Midwest. The OF’s started drawing parallels which was only natural.

As the OF’s talked it was apparent the only real parallel is the loss of homes. With the tornadoes many OF’s mentioned how swift and fast they came and people had nowhere to run, whereas the flood, in most cases, gave some time to get to higher ground. With the tornadoes the homes were completely flattened; with the flood many were washed away never to be found, and left others standing is one form or another but still uninhabitable.

The hardy tornado victims can, and one OF threw in if they have the financial wherewithal, start rebuilding right away, whereas the valley flood victims have to wait to be sure the mold is gone, the wiring is ok, and the house is not contaminated, and even then they have to get permission to build where the house stood because of its proximity to the flood plain.

So, as one OF put it, this is a case of similar, but by no means alike. Then another OG said, “Why is the planet so mad at us, the way nature is knocking us off, do we really have to worry about over population?” Then an OF said, “They have these population clocks based on birth — how about a death clock, so we all can see how it balances out.”

An OF brought up the thought that the birth clock can be reasonably projected, but the death clock would be tough because instead of going tick, tick, tick, it would have to go tick, tick, and then an earthquake or a tsunami could happen and thousands would perish. So therefore the clock would have to go tick, tick, and then tiiiicccckkk.

The OF’s thought a large math clock at Times Square would be slick. A clock that would record births and deaths and compute the difference; then when one of these natural disasters would happen a huge minus would appear and the clock would show the new difference with how many more births would have to happen to catch up.

(Scribe’s note: another segue on how one discussion just flows {no pun intended} from one to another.)

As spring approaches the OF’s are again watching birds as they return. The red-wing blackbirds are back, flickers are here, the robins never leave, and no OF has seen swallows yet, but the winter birds have had a great time of it so far this year. One OF who resides at Warner Lake says the lake has not frozen over; there has been open water all winter.

This chatter led us into sap and the tapping of trees. Some of the OF’s do this and produce their own maple syrup. These OFs say the sap is running quite early this year, and they have noticed buds on trees, and the early spring bugs running around, which one OF said would explain the flickers.

This brought up an interesting story from one of the OF’s who has family in Alaska, and he has also lived in Alaska. He reported that in that state they tap the white birch trees and as we have maple syrup, they have white birch syrup. The OF said it does taste different but it is not bad. Then one OF added that there is a new commercial out that touts corn sweetener as sugar, and says sugar is sugar…well, the OF’s say tain’t so. A cracker turns to sugar in your gut, but it tain’t sugar.

One OF said he sure wouldn’t put maple syrup in his coffee, or corn sweetener, or a cracker. They are all supposed to be sugar but don’t tell the coffee that.
Speaking of all that maple tree tapping brought up the Kiwanis maple festival breakfast at the Knox fire house, on Sunday, March 25th, from 9 to 1:30, pancakes and all that good stuff. (Talk about a plug) Anyway, here is a chance to taste real maple syrup against Mrs. Butterworth’s.
Those OF’s that made it to the Blue Star restaurant in Schoharie, and some ordering pancakes and using syrup that wasn’t maple were: Miner Stevens, John Rossmann, Jim Heiser, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Frank Pauli, Dave Williams, Gary Porter, (not Potter), Jack Norray, Robie Osterman, Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Steve Kelly, Harold Guest, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Willard Osterhout, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen, and me.