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On another one of the many dreary, gray days in our neck of the woods the Old Men of the Mountain met on Tuesday, March 12th at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville where though it was gray outside, the inside seemed to be filled with sunshine, and the great typical diner aroma. Too many houses today have air scrubbers, or air purifiers, or burn aromatic candles to cover up the great smells of food cooking in kitchen.

An apple pie in the oven, bacon or sausage frying in the pan, bread or rolls warming on top of the stove, turkey roasting, a good steak sizzling on the fire…they don’t make fragrances like this. The OFs say all the scents are lady smells. Essence of lilacs, that smells no more like lilacs than that of the essence of roses, or essences of apple blossoms. They all smell alike, and hurt the nose.

Where is the essence of horse, or the essence of gasoline, or the essence of motor oil? The OFs say the real aromas are when the OF goes from the machinery shed after maintaining the tractor with the smell of the oil-soaked wood floor, into the wood shed and its smell of oak, and then into the kitchen with the wonderful smell of what’s cooking.

No wonder people today are so stressed out. The calming natural aromas have been removed and replaced with all the phony scents that are nothing but chemicals and everybody is breathing them in. “Well,” one OF said, “I do shower and shave and clean up before going out. I don’t want to go out smelling like what I had for breakfast.” Then one other OF responded, “We all do that; that is not what we mean. What we mean is trying to make nature something that she ain’t.”

A different OF suggested that some of nature’s smells are not that pleasant. Some examples would be: cooking fish, liquid manure, and essence of skunk is none too pleasant either, or a house that harbors one hundred cats and not enough litter boxes ─ and that list of aromas can go on and on. This OF said nature can be pretty nasty in the smell department when it wants to.

Then an OF alleged that smell is the most prominent of memories. This OF said we can remember smells longer than any of the other senses or emotions. Now how are the OFs going to check that one out? The OFs will have to be with another OF the minute he gets ready to kick the bucket and the final words he utters will be, “I remember the smell of my first diaper.” Then the OFs will know and we can report that it is true.

One OF brought in a history (which he had borrowed so he could return the document to another family member) of a cemetery which is located in the Hilltowns. This history was of the families who are buried there. Many cemeteries do not have a history of all that are buried there. The only history would be of the families that have relatives buried there, and maybe some good friends. It would be neat if in the beginning the caretakers, or those of the cemetery board, would get some kind of history of everyone buried in a particular cemetery starting with grave number one. It is too late now to go back two hundred years, but it would a fun job for someone to pick a cemetery and try to resurrect this information. Most cemeteries have information on prominent people interred there, but the obscure ones not so. The average Joe Smith, or Sam Jones, or Mary Whoever, are remembered mainly by family members, and when in some families the family members eventually die out the names become just that ─ names ─ on weather-beaten stones.

Sometimes the OFs wondered if being in a state of constant hurt put many of the OFs in the grave. One OF thought his grave marker should be, “Here I lie beneath this dirt, thanking God I no longer hurt.” One OF wondered if just being in constant pain affects our thinking. This OF thought that we do not do enough in this country with acupuncture because the way he understood the process it does eliminate pain for periods of time. Another OG said that is the first time he has even heard the word in years.

The OFs talked about early risers, and those that have a tendency to sleep in. It seems the OFs that are sleeper-inners, have no sympathy for those that rise early when they start complaining they are tired at two in the afternoon. The early risers grumble about those that sleep late by saying they are wasting the best part of the day by laying in bed. To the early riser there is nothing like the feel of a beautiful morning and sunrise, and the sleeper-inner says there is nothing like a beautiful sunset and the sounds of evening.

The early riser said that rising early in the day lets you get more done because when the heat of day comes you can take a nap until it starts to cool off again. When the guys that sleep in and get up late, the heat of the day is beginning to start, and then you have to work in this heat to get anything done. Who can do their best work with sweat running in their eyes?

Many of the OFs discussions seem to have no end ─ they just go round and round. However, for this day this little report has to come to an end, and it has.

Those OFs that made it to the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville (regardless of when they got up) were: Bill Rice, Bill Krause, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Frank Pauli, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Jim Heiser, Jack Norray, Gary Porter, Mace Porter, Dave Williams, Henry Whipple, Don Moser, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Harold Grippen, and me.