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In the rain and fog the Old Men of the Mountain on September 16th met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh. Trudging to the Middleburgh Diner through muck and mire is what the OFs are good at; trudging is what the OFs do. The OFs are experts on trudging. To see many of us OFs disembark from a vehicle is a lesson in trudging. Many of the OFs unfold out of a car and stand for a few seconds before moving; this is to get their knees, hips and backs in proper alignment from sitting in order to take the first step. Then for the next ten or twelve steps it is the Tim Conway shuffle for these joints to creak into shape and the pain becomes the familiar and bearable one that the OFs are used to. Then the backs may straighten up some and the gait increases until by the time the OFs reach the door of the restaurant they are not in bad shape. Of course, the reverse is true when it is time to leave the restaurant. The process starts all over because now the OFs have to get out of their restaurant chairs, and trudge their creaking joints to their vehicles.

Tis the season for allergies, the end of summer nostalgia, and for political signs to start sprouting up. These things pop up all over the place and according to the OFs they have been well fertilized and ready for a new season of lousing up the beautiful fall colors. The continuous bombardment of nasty attack ads on TV from all sides of the aisle, as one OF said, are a great reason for the use of the mute button. He said if only he could make it automatic…That is that, on that.

The OFs spoke again about solar panels (this topic is coming up more often; this scribe thinks that this type of power is coming more into vogue) and how there are pluses and minuses to this energy source. One OF mentioned that many of these installations require the use of power from the grid. If the power goes out so does your solar panel. Then an OF added that there are systems that collect the power and store it in batteries so when that does happen your need for power converts to the batteries. To most of the OFs all this sounds rather expensive. One OF brought up the question of how much natural resources does it take to build one of these things and maintain it. “You can’t build a battery out of thin air,” the OF said. “Let me burn wood, at least I can grow another tree, but what can I do with a huge battery when it wears out and I have to buy another one. Where does that battery go?”

“The same thing can be said of just about anything,” an OF said, “Oil takes the same steel to build the pumps, and the offshore rigs, and what happens to those big rigs when the oil runs out?” The other OF said, “I can still grow a tree.” One OF had an answer for the rigs ─ turn them into condos. “I bet tons of people would love to live on the ocean, and make the parts of the rigs that go down into the water apartments. I think that would be great to live in for awhile, anyway, under the ocean. I bet it would be quiet at night.” One OG that was familiar with diving said, “It is pretty quiet all the time under the water.” The OFs wondered if the big oil companies have thought of this. These OFs are quite an entrepreneurial group.

The tree OF said, “I don’t care what they do, I can still grow a tree, and I do.” “Not all people live in the woods like you, you OG; millions live in the city and don’t even know what a tree is. Well wind and solar isn’t going to handle that, if you want to cut out oil and coal, there is always nuclear, and I for one think that is the way to go, plus cars, trains, and trucks that run off magnetic strips powered by nuclear generators.”

Again, the abundance of wild life around this late summer was another topic. The hunters won’t have much hunting to do; it looks like the turkey and deer are going to be coming right up to nuzzle the muzzle of the gun. Besides being abundant the OFs think that they are almost tame. The OFs know many of the fifth or sixth generation of deer are road-wise. Many of the OFs report seeing deer stop at the edge on the road and check for traffic in both directions before crossing. Watching a deer try to scurry across a paved road gives the appearance that the deer is on ice. An OF wondered how much weight is on a deer hoof. They are small and sharp. A Clydesdale horse has very large hoofs so per square inch that horse isn’t putting much pressure on the ground, but that deer must be placing all its weight on just a couple of square inches of ground…no wonder they skid all over the place on a paved road.

“Yeah,” an OF said, “A fat, beer drinking, redneck with clod- hoppers on is putting less weight per square inch on the ground than some skinny broad in high heels.” “Right,” was the reply, “Who would you want to step on your foot, a 300-pound man in size 14 work boots, or a 100-pound broomstick lass in 6 inch heels?” The OFs advice goes for the 300-pound guy.
The OFs that made it to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh via the normal means of transportation were: Bill Bartholomew, George Washburn, Steve Kelly, Harold Guest, Jim Heiser, Roger Shafer, Miner Stevens, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, John Rossmann, Robie Osterman, Dave Williams, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Don Woods, Henry Whipple, Ted Willsey, Bob Lassome, Rich Donnelly, Duane Wagonbaugh, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gill Zabel, Harold Grippen, Jim Rissacher, Mike Willsey, Bob Donnelly, and me.