When words are hard to come by


By G. Sam Piatt - Contributing Columnist



So here I sit, once again staring at a blank computer screen, searching my mind for 700 to 800 words to make up another outdoor column – number 2,613, give or take a few.

Sunshine is streaming through the window of my little den here at the top of Sand Hill, straight across the Ohio River from where the old steel mill and coke plant belched their wonderful smoke and soot into the atmosphere as more than 4,000 people labored for a paycheck. Now the old mill has been leveled and replaced with a strip mall.

And the steel mill at Ashland will be closed completely by the end of the year, with no replacement for the site yet determined.

The economy is said to be thriving, so where is the steel for new cars and appliances coming from?

I went to a department store one day last week to buy me something to wear to the wedding of grandson Elijah Luke and Lana Percell (yesterday). Every piece of clothing I pulled off the rack carried the labels telling me it was made in China, Vietnam or Mexico.

GETTING READY

I’ve accomplished all my pre-writing tasks I can think of. I’ve emptied the dishwasher, filled the bird feeders, made the bed, checked my emails, brushed my teeth a couple of times, checked the calendar for appointments, sharpened every pencil I can find, checked my “Readers Digest Oxford Complete Wordfinder” to determine the difference between the words “cream” and “crème”….

I’ve got my special pillow under me in the chair with the high curved back the kids got me one Christmas. This temporarily, along with my second mug of strong java, with real cream giving it the color of the Ohio at flood stage, relieves the back pain.

DEER SEASONS

Kentucky and Ohio big game hunters are marking the days until the opening of the gun deer seasons. The 16-day Kentucky season is scheduled for Nov. 9-24, while Ohio’s 7-day gun season is set for Dec. 2-8. The deer gun season for youth is Nov 23-24.

Kentucky’s youth deer gun season is in now, Oct. 12-13. It runs until 30 minutes after sundown today.

Even though Kentucky hunters are expected to take about 120,000 deer during all seasons this year and Ohio hunters generally take about 200,000 whitetails, the deer herds continue to grow.

They provide some protein-packed meat for some families who can’t afford to buy high-priced beef.

Many years ago I tried eating some venison a friend had prepared on the grill. It was leathery and mostly tasteless. I decided from that experience that I didn’t like deer meat and had stayed away from it since.

But several years ago, when son Kelly bagged a nice young buck, we fixed some stovetop venison in an iron skillet and it was tender and delicious. I became a venison fan.

Then my son, since December 2015 my beloved late son, and wife, Bonnie, were in the kitchen fixing breakfast. I checked and found Kelly getting ready to fry some buttermilk-soaked tenderloin along with some fresh eggs. A venison breakfast – delicious, and healthier than bacon or ham.

WHY THE BAD BACK?

I can remember when I used to climb those boards-nailed-to-the-trunk ladders to get into my tree stand 25 feet up and enjoy watching and waiting for that buck to come down the trail below me.

Now I can’t even make it up one of those A-frame ladder stands.

When I was in my teens and working summer vacation at the old root beer plant down on second street in Portsmouth, my main job was to carry 50-pound bags of sugar on my shoulder up a ladder to a platform, cut the bag open and dump the contents into the mixing vat.

Later, when I got to go out on the delivery truck as a helper to the driver, Mike, I pulled heavy cases of pop off the truck and loaded them onto the hand cart to push into the store and stack.

Not bragging, but when I was in my 20s and had a wife and three kids and was keeping them fed and clothed by working heavy construction jobs, I had a 200-pound frame made up of mostly solid muscle.

One day, while helping to build the Ohio River dam at New Richmond, Ohio, a co-worker bet me a pack of Luckies I couldn’t carry a steel tank filled with oxygen up a 20-foot wooden ladder and down another ladder into the next form, where the welders needed it to prepare for a concrete pour.

Such tanks were usually lifted into the forms with a crane.

I won the bet. How lucky can you get?

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By G. Sam Piatt

Contributing Columnist

Reach G. SAM PIATT at gsamwriter@twc.com or (606) 932-3619.

Reach G. SAM PIATT at gsamwriter@twc.com or (606) 932-3619.