The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

August 17, 2013

Don Steese's Outdoor Perspectives column: Paying for old foibles


Daily Item

---- — Getting old is no picnic, especially when you spent your younger years being stupid. Years of stress, strain, and misuse take their toll on a body. Right now that toll is making itself known with some extreme lower back pain.

Started about two weeks ago, and is only now starting to get a bit better. (I'm down to two or three tooth gritting episodes per day). It's been bad enough to keep me off the river, off the streams, and it's even kept me from running the dogs and if I don't run the dogs you know I'm a hurting puppy! (Pun intended). Back pain is especially bothersome because other people have the tendency to laugh at you. I don't know why someone yelling out in pain when they bend over or get in or out of a chair seems so funny, but I know it does because I've laughed at some of my friends who were in the same boat as I currently am. Anyhow, the doc says I may have injured my back sometime in my younger days. Gee, I wonder when could that have happened?

Like maybe while we were building our first cabin? We bought the land in October and wanted to have a cabin we could use by deer season. Shouldn't be a problem right? Well maybe, if we didn't also have 40-plus-hour-a-week jobs. Anyhow, our cabin site didn't really have a road to it. We simply cut down some trees and called it a road. No stones, no shale, just a path through the woods almost wide enough to get a pickup truck through, when you could get a truck up the steep hill to the building site, which was only about 30 percent of the time. All this meant we carried a gas refrigerator, a combination gas/coal kitchen stove, and a whole lot of building material up that hill on our (at the time) young strong backs. It was not a wise thing to do but it did give our camp it's name. After one particularly hard trek up to the camp carrying a couple hundred pounds each, someone remarked, "Boy! That hill is a killer!!" Hence, "Killer Hill Kamp."

We ended up with a camp we could hunt out of after three long weekends of hard, backbreaking work, but to this day I don't know how. It was crude, but then so were we. I remember quite well that first deer season a case of beer we'd stored in a spare bedroom froze. We, on the other hand, thought it was downright comfy, as long as we didn't take off our Woolrich hunting coats and sat real close to the kitchen stove.

If we were downright dumb when it came to cabin construction, it paled in comparison to our wood cutting forays. We'd fell a tree that only a lumberjack should attempt and then, since we were always a long, long way from the trucks, carry all that wood a quarter mile through the woods. We went by the old rule that the further from the road the tree was the better the firewood would be, not to mention the fact that someone smarter than us had already gotten all dead trees that were right next to the road. I knew a young fella about as smart as we were who tried a brief career in the firewood business. We asked him where he was finding all these dead trees right next to the road, to which he replied, "I just wait till winter, then they all look dead!" Sound reasoning I must admit.

So there you have it. Just a few weeks till hunting season and I'm having trouble walking out to the mailbox, and I have nobody to blame but myself. In my next life I'm gonna be somebody smarter! What's that old saying, "If I knew I was gonna live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself." Indeed!

n Email comments to jdsteese@yahoo.com.