On January 24th the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville. At this meeting the pickings were slim. The weather was a major factor but some brave souls made the trek. One OF didn’t make it because he was instructed by his better half that he had better not go and leave her alone when the power went out. The power didn’t go off so the OF missed the breakfast. The OF was headed out the door on his way when the OMOTM thought the better part of valor would be to return.

From the informants who braved the weather and made it to the breakfast it was noted that for some reason part of the conversation was on the Civil War. This was from knowledge gained from books, and not actual participation, although with some of the ages of these OFs, they just missed it.

President Lincoln’s inauguration was the most hostile, and guarded inauguration in history. He was known to many as the “ape” from Illinois and the gossip was that he would never take the reins of the government alive. The carriage which he rode from the Capitol to the White House was so guarded by the military that he was barely visible, and the Army was employed to keep the crowds at bay. The sharpshooters on the rooftops were given orders to shoot anyone that approached the carriage. Politics are still alive and causing discussion among “We, the People.”

Our weather was also a topic, of course. With the exception of the temperatures in the Hilltowns not being quite as high as the Carolinas, this much of the winter so far, has been like the Carolinas with all the ice. One OF mentioned that what they have in the Carolinas is lots of ice, but the days warm up so fast (for the most part) the ice is gone by late afternoon. “Not always,” one OF added, “It (ice) can hang around, and get inches thick, and just like us here in upstate NY, everything will shut down.

The white pine trees in the Hilltowns are bent over from the ice buildup on the tree’s branches, and so far this year this occurrence has happened twice. One OF mentioned that the white pine shed branches in ice storms like deciduous trees shed their leaves in the fall. One OF said that even though they drop branches as large as six inches in diameter it does not seem to affect the tree; that weed of a tree just keeps on growing.

“Yes,” one OF commented, “In the fall we have to contend with all the pine needles that fall, and in the spring we have to haul all the branches away that fell during the winter.” To this OF it is a double whammy. Then the yellow pollen in the spring shows up and that stuff goes where water won’t. However, his wife insists that the tree supplies cover to lots of blue jays so let the trees be.

The OF claimed he and his wife sit on the porch and watch the birds fly full tilt through the white pines and never ruffle a needle. They wonder how these fliers manage to do this because the various birds’ wing spans can be from four inches to twelve inches plus across.

Another OF wife complains when her beloved OF clears brush and tries to eliminate the wild grape vines because that is where the cardinals live. The OF says his home is full of the red of cardinal plates, cardinal wall hangings, cardinal figurines and sundry cardinal knick-knacks.

The OFs discussed the eye, and how tough an organ that is. Many of the OFs have had eye surgery. The OFs have many of the eye problems of all OFs, and OFsess, (i.e., princes & princesses) like dry eye, macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and a few other ailments like scratchy eyeballs, and tearing. But the eye is tough; many of the OFs have had numerous black eyes, One OF said he had two black eyes at the same time. Bugs, dust, thistles, and all kinds of stuff whack the OFs in the eyes and for the most part, after a short time, the eye is back to normal. One OF said he had a battery blow up in his face and he thought he was going to be blind, but after a while his vision was back and normal. To which another OF added, “You are one lucky s.o.b., that could have been the case and you would now be using a white cane.”

Those hardy few that made it to the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville, and probably left Amanda with a few extra eggs, a couple extra pounds of bacon, and extra bowls of pancake mix, because of the short supply of OFs were: Harold Guest, Bill Lichliter, Rev. Jay Francis, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Elwood Vanderbilt, Jim Rissacher, Harold Grippen, Marty Herzog, Ted Willsey, (Denise Eardley), and not me.

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