Tuesday, the 22nd of December, the morning temperature at 5:30 was 43 degrees; it was cloudy, and still dark.

The Old Men of the Mountain congregated at Mrs. K’s restaurant in Middleburgh as is the tradition of the breakfast before Christmas. Loretta, as usual, put on a buffet with all kinds of goodies, plus meat and cheese platters, crackers, pickles, and homemade fruitcake.  This was a real Christmas spread for the OMOTM to start with, and then the OFs ordered breakfast.

More than one of the OFs is musically bent (meaning they have talent and they are not shaped like the G cleft symbol).  One of these OFs has a small group that played for the party at Mrs. K’s. It is only fair to mention the members of the group, starting with Roger Shafer who is the OF, then Debbie Fish, and rounding out the trio, Tom White. Many of the OFs are talented in other ways and the OMOTM as a group is quite lucky to have all this knowledge and talent sitting at the same table. The group played such rousing songs as “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”, and one that espoused the fact the OFs do not really enjoy the view they get of themselves naked in front of the mirror. One OF mentioned he needs a GPS system to follow the wrinkles to find his toes so he can cut his toenails, and then he needs to fire up the chain saw to do it.

The OFs would like to thank Roger for bringing this little group to the breakfast this morning and getting the OFs in the Christmas spirit ─ snow sure is not going to do it this year.

Speaking of snow, many of the OFs reported on how the weather is so much like spring that one OF has a sporadic growth of the yellow flowers of his forsythia blooming, and another OF said that his lilacs are beginning to look green.  Still another said that the maple trees by him have the red cast of budding, and one tree, he thought, even had a few green leaves. A couple of the OFs said the birds are not visiting the feeders either, the birds are around they noted, but the seed is still there uneaten. One OF said he thinks the birds are getting their fill of what they like best and only come to his feeder for desert.

The OFs may have reported this before but some have stated they have spotted a few farmers getting the jump on spring plowing. These thrifty farmers might just as well take advantage of the weather, and fuel while it is relatively cheap. There is a chance come spring the price of fuel will go up, or as one OF said, “It could also go lower”. To which the other OF said, “Don’t count on it. If I was still farming I would be out there doing the same thing, there is still going to be cold weather so then I would still have time to catch up on repairing equipment, and barn maintenance. Spring might then not catch me by surprise and I only have half my winter chores done”.

One group of OFs at the end of the table near the kitchen was talking about how they have to get dressed now, and the way they get dressed. One OF said whether he is barefoot or has socks on even when putting on his shorts quite often a foot becomes caught in one leg or the other and he almost topples over. The other OFs knew exactly what he was talking about because they have the same problem. Another OF said he has to lean against something now to put on his socks, shorts, and pants. Yet another OF said he pulls his pants half-way up and almost takes a header because invariably he is standing on his suspenders. Another round of grunts and yeses in agreement.

Next comes the process of putting the OFs arms through his sleeves.  One OG said he can get the left arm in the sleeve then he can’t even find the hole in the sleeve to get the right arm in. He said he is there flipping and flopping the shirt, or sweater, or coat all over the place trying to get the right arm into the sleeve. Another OF said he has the same problem but solved it somewhat by not pulling his shirt up high before putting his right arm in. Then he hunches his back and kind of flips it up to his shoulders.

Clothes for kids and for the OFs take a beating; it is amazing fabric and thread can be so tough. In the movies where some seductress rips the shirt off a guy’s back the shirt must be prop. Tain’t that easy Magee. Some OFs said they have seen guys get part of their clothing caught in a gear, or spinning drive shaft and it does not tear. Many farmers have been seriously hurt with loose fitting clothing getting caught in unguarded whirling parts.

Those OMOTM attending the party at Mrs. K’s in Middleburgh and offering their thanks to Loretta and her staff for all they do on the Tuesday before Christmas were: Robie Osterman, Steve Kelly, Harold Guest, George Washburn, Roger Chapman, John Rossmann, Henry Witt, Jim Heiser, Miner Stevens, Dave Williams, Karl Remmers, Alvin Latham, Roger Shafer, Chuck Aelesio, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Don Wood, Wayne Gaul, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Ted Willsey, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Gerry Cartier, Henry Whipple, Harold Grippen and me.