On the 8th of March the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Home Front Café in Altamont. It was a nice uneventful early morning.  The sun was coming up and, though a little chilly, there was a Florida feel to the air. Maybe it is more than global warming (?), the planet may be tipping on its axis at a greater rate than originally was thought.

The OFs that were (and still are) farmers of sorts are a little concerned about this early warm weather. In their bucket of wishes they hope for some snow, the wet warm kind, and plenty of it. These rains aren’t going to mean much because the ground has a lot of frost in it and the rain is just going to run off.  Snow, the farmer OFs say, will suck the frost out of the ground and the water from the melting snow will be able to get to the aquifers. They also say that if a few days of real cold weather should happen to come by now, it will severely damage the early budding of trees and plants which has been brought on by such early warm days and nights.

One OF thought that if the weather holds true to their bucket wish list that third cuttings (of hay) will be normal and first cuttings could end sometime in April. Then one OF said, “Look how long we are going to have to put up with mosquitoes if things become this warm this early”.  “Maybe,” another OF said, “Fall may start in June, who knows?”

With the spring-like weather coming sooner than expected many of the OFs that are collectors of sorts ─ actually boarding on hoarding ─ were talking about clearing out some of their clutter. This is only talk mind you, this is not cast in any kind of stone.  The stone for this rhetoric hasn’t even been found yet and this scribe doesn’t think any of the OFs are even looking for it. One OF said to another OF that for him to clear out his clutter he would need a tractor trailer. The other OF replied that, that OF should talk, it would take two tractor trailer loads just for him to clear off the top of the pile. “Wait a minute,” the other OFs said, “What I have is collectibles; it is my wife that has the clutter.” It was strange because the reply from the other OF was in agreement; he said if he didn’t watch his collection of old tractors, and farm machinery and parts his wife would have the junk dealer come in and haul it away.

That conversation lead to how the collectors of large items are going to have these collections for awhile because the bottom has fallen out of the price for scrap. Then another OF (one who is not part of the collector group of OFs) said he just purchased an anvil so he could strap his wife to it and sell her for scrap. One OF said, “You are stuck with her for now, wait until the price goes back up then you ship her off to the scrap yard.”

At the table this morning an OF that was in the Navy, and an OF that was in the Air Force sat directly across from one another and these two began talking about which one of them had it tougher in the service. The OF in the Navy described what it was like on a ship that was not much larger than a Saudi’s yacht. His ship had only four toilets, he said, for everyone on board, and these toilets were made of wood. The Air Force OG maintained that they did not have conditions like that.  The Air Force had bunks and regular latrines, whereas the Navy OF slept on a hammock that he shared with another fellow. But the Air Force OF said that their attrition rate was much higher than the Swabbies.  So the debate goes on between the different branches of the military.

Quite often the OFs discuss other OFs that are ill, or laid up  and at this morning’s breakfast some mentioned a collection of OFs that are out of commission for one reason or another. The concern for them all was genuine, because many of the OFs can safely say the old phrase “been there, done that,” and be right.

The OFs started talking about attitude when one of them is under the weather; how some moan and groan and that allows for some semblance of relief. Some just grin and bear it, some take the attitude of “well, I got it now what”, and some become so miserable no one wants to be around them. Some appreciate company because talking takes their mind off whatever it is that is bothering them, and others just want to be left alone. Still others equate visitors like vultures waiting for the OF to pass away, which may or may not happen.

One OG mentioned he does not know what to do.  This OF said he does not want the ill OF to feel that everyone has abandoned him, but he doesn’t want to upset him either. And then there are the Job visitors who belie the OF who lies there in his misery, with the comments of his sorry life i.e., we told you that your smoking would bring you to this, or how many times did we tell you to lay off the booze. Then some OFs would tell the OF that they came to visit he was surely going to have to put up with what he has. This OF said his problem was chasing all those women and catching them.  The most accurate declaration of all would be, “we told you to slow down you OF, you are not fifty years old anymore.”

Many of the OFs feel like these OFs at one time or another, still all the OFs are concerned about the ones that are temporarily not with us and can’t wait until they get back to the breakfast table. Then the returning OF can continue with his story which is likely to be 20 percent exaggerated, 40 percent fabrication, and the balance might have a smattering of the truth tucked in there someplace.

Those OFs who made it to the Home Front Café in Altamont, and claim ‘the weather is what it is, deal with it’, were: Roger Chapman, Karl Remmers, Bill Lichliter, Dave Williams, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Bill Tinning, George Washburn, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Chuck Aelesio, Glenn Patterson, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Wayne Gaul, Mike Willsey, Bill Rice, Henry Whipple, Gerry Chartier, Harold Grippen, and me.