The Old Coot is in a fog

Fall is here. It always comes as a surprise. I think summer will go on forever and then a fog rolls in to remind me. I rode my bike to town in it; the whole village looked as though it was wrapped in a cobweb. It was the topic of the morning conversation at the Owego Kitchen, “Boy, sure is foggy out there!” We’re a sharp bunch, us old coots; we notice things like fog. 

We don’t notice we missed two belt loops in our pants, that our “lost” glasses are perched on the top of our heads, or that the guy we just greeted with “Hi Bill” is really Frank. No, we don’t notice those things, but we do notice fog. Fog is good. You can’t see the crabgrass through the haze; the lawn looks flawless. The east side of the house that looked like it needed repainting yesterday seems just fine on a foggy morning. 

Fog is one of the best things about fall. There is nothing quite so serene as a flock of geese ascending from the river blanketed in fog. First, you hear the resounding honks, then, one by one, the geese rise in a “V” and head off to warmer places. Old coots do the same thing, except their formation is on the southbound lane of Route 81 or 95, interspaced among a sea of tractor-trailers. 

Some of my old coot brothers (and sisters) don’t notice the fog; they haven’t had their cataracts fixed. To them, a foggy morning is just like any other. It’s not good to put off getting the cloudy lenses replaced with new ones, and not for the obvious reasons, like it’s impossible to drive at night or it’s hard to recognize people.

I get why some old coots don’t deal with their cataracts. It’s the, “there is nothing out there I want to see” syndrome. It’s similar to the condition that stops old guys from buying hearing aids, or turning them on when they do. They don’t want to hear anything either. Especially someone telling them it’s time to trim those cornstalks growing out of their ears.  

But, delaying the inevitable (cataract repair) is fraught with danger. The kind that takes place when you get home from the hospital and look in the mirror. First, you screech. Then you yell, “How did my face get so old looking?” When you turn around to ask your wife what’s going on you get another shock, “Who are you,” you ask. No, it’s better to nip the problem in the bud and enjoy the real fog, the one that comes rolling in on a nippy morning and announces the arrival of fall. 

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