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Kudos to Filson clothing

Filson is a clothing manufacturer in Seattle, making pretty much the most basic American clothing styles for the past 130 years.

Little has changed in their styles or fabrics. Boring? Maybe.

Flannel and wool shirts, wool and canvas coats and pants, wool long underwear, leather boots with wool insulation, tote and carry bags and purses, every item is made in America of virgin wool or different weights of canvas.

One short phrase describes Filson products: Brutally tough.

Or, “Last a lifetime.”

In an era of cheap Chinese crap and Asian sweatshop “designer” clothes, Filson stands alone, or probably alone. I am a consumer of top-quality outdoor clothing, and I cannot think of another manufacturer who makes anything like Filson’s clothing line.

Oh, sure, there are plastic and Gore Tex outdoor clothes galore. Eddie Bauer, LL Bean, Mountain Hard Wear, and others make some pretty good ones, which our family wears. Fleece coats, mountaineering parkas, super-sophisticated PhD plastic fiber clothes for the outdoor lifestyle. Some are married to goose down, which is genuinely warm.

But all of these synthetics catch on fire and turn the wearer into a large, running, screaming torch when exposed to flame. Or at the least they wilt, melt, smell very bad, and cease being useful when exposed to a camp fire hot enough to dry your damp undies and wet socks. In other words, the newfangled modern synthetics may weigh next to nothing and stop wind faster than a speeding bullet and locomotive, but they lack certain basic physical properties necessary to truly enjoy or survive the outdoors.

Wool and waxed heavy cotton canvas are nearly fireproof and can withstand tremendous force before tearing. Wool keeps the wearer warm even when wet. Yes, it is heavy compared to synthetics, but it is a lot quieter, actually it is silent, whereas even the best of synthetic fleece hunting clothes will leave a telltale “zip” sound when dragged across a sharp branch.

Filson forms a big part of my winter clothing selection. Mackinaw vests and coats of different colors and patterns form the core of the selection, and the double mackinaw coat in “Pennsylvania Tuxedo” red-and-black buffalo check plaid has kept me toasty warm in sub-zero temperatures day after day. This past week I wore the double mackinaw coat while flintlock hunting, and I never got cold. It was sub-zero every day.

Other wool clothes I wear are heavy camouflage Columbia hunting pants, Bass Pro Redhead heavy wool socks, Danner wool socks, knee-high SmartWool ski and hunting socks, and SmartWool long underwear. Yes, once in a while I break out the Eddie Bauer and Woolrich Adirondock plaid pants, jackets, and so on. They are real testaments to a world long gone, which dinosaurs like me cling to in misty eyed memories.

David Petzal is the gun writer for Field and Stream Magazine, and among many other witticisms and pithy one-liners, years ago he noted that all synthetic long underwear makes you smell like someone slaughtered a cow after a day, but wool long underwear can be worn for days without you or them being cleaned, and yet you don’t smell…too badly.

That’s the thing. Wool is natural. Like leather and fur, it is natural and fits the human body perfectly. We can sweat into wool for days on a hunt, and it just doesn’t smell bad. Oh, it may not smell fresh, but compared to the polypropylene synthetics, it does.

My Filson Mackinaw coat accompanies me on all my Adirondack wilderness hunts, serving as a blanket at night when the temperature inside the tent dips to 18 degrees. And yet after many years of being worn through thorn patches and rugged mountain brush, it shows zero signs of wear. That says it all.

Other favorites include the now discontinued styles of Tin Cloth logging jacket and Double Tin field coat, both of which I wear when hunting for small game in January and February, when thorns are a big part of the day. Some of these discontinued tin cloth coats have become collector’s items. Each one will last you your entire lifetime, and if you wax it at the end of the season, it will serve your kids, too.

So, kudos to Filson for making Best-quality, “old fashioned” clothing for a tech-happy generation. www.filson.com

Chapped hands? Recondition your winter boots

My hands have been badly chapped for weeks now. Outdoor work and play, and cold weather have chewed up the thumbs and finger tips on both my hands.  You’d think I actually worked for a living to look at them.

This morning I was reminded about the best way to fix that chapped skin: Recondition leather work boots and hunting boots. Whether it’s Sno-Seal, Danner Boot Cream, or some other natural salve for dry leather, it also works healing wonders on the hands that apply it. And sitting by the warm fire helps, too.

Seasonal weather changes are natural, welcome

Seasonal changes are natural tick-tocks on the world’s clock.

Following a natural cycle keeps us in tune with nature, even if the conditions aren’t always to our liking.

Cold arrived today.

Driving north on Friday, I photographed the “polar vortex” front as it closed in on central Pennsylvania. It was a dramatic sight, indeed, and heralded the coming of winter.

Right away, I spoke out loud to myself about the need to buy new knobby tires for the truck.  A long, cold, snowy winter is ahead, and I need to be as prepared as possible. Winter isn’t too challenging, if I’ve prepared for it.

Tonight we got our first wood fire going, after cleaning out the wood stove and adding new fire bricks. About a cord of last year’s split oak remains before we begin burning the oak that Viv, Isaac and I split this past spring. By the time we burn through the left over wood, the new wood should be completely dry. We will burn between three and four-and-a-half cords this winter at home.

Wood is a natural, sustainable, renewable heat source whose carbon is part of the planet’s natural cycle. We plant a lot of trees, and they absorb carbon to grow big. It’s a closed loop, which is appealing.

Living life according to the planet’s rhythms is natural and healthy. Will you get cold? Sure. That’s part of living. And if you think it’s cold here, check out Minnesota or Wisconsin or Idaho. Not to mention Alaska.

Just put on long undies and get some Filson wool jackets and vests. You might end up enjoying the cold weather. I certainly do.

Questions you were told not to ask, #1

Why does global warming feel so record-setting cold?

Warmer weather can’t come too soon

What began as a happy trip to the wood shed for a load of seasoned oak in the Fall is now a crabby trudge through deep snow and ice, a drudgery opposite the cheerfulness felt with the first flames to beat back Winter’s early chill.

Spring warmth cannot come too soon.  Naturally, it will arrive, melt the Arctic snow cap occupying my lawn, and probably result in some Biblical flood carrying my home down river to the Chesapeake Bay.

Speaking of floods, and flood insurance, I am hopeful that the insane congresswoman Maxcine Waters will have her bizarre legislation permanently overturned, so that people can either afford to own their homes (something she is not familiar with or supportive of) or the Federal government will buy out the landowners so the societal costs and benefits are not concentrated on just the private property owners.  Government cannot change the social contract in one week.  Well, under liberals it can, of course.  Let’s rephrase that: Government should not restructure the social contract in such a short time that private property owners see their investments destroyed overnight.  That would be good government, something unknown to Maxcine Waters and her fellow liberals.

OK, belay that last “let it snow”

Like you and most everyone I know around Pennsylvania, I feel done with the snow. Yes, did I say “let it snow” a bunch yesterday?  Well, that was then and this is now.  Now, we are expecting another eight to twelve inches of snow in the next day.  On top of the six to eight inches of hardened crust, ice, and snow already on the ground, another foot is going to keep spring from arriving for a long time.

This much snow puts a stranglehold on our business operations.  Shuts down machinery.  Trucks cannot pick up, guys cannot cut, or even drive their trucks, let alone get their machines moving.

What really is telling about this cold is that at home, we have burned a solid three-plus cords of seasoned oak firewood.  We may be closing in on four burned to date.  We have enough to take us into the end of the longest cold winter, but that just means more work felling, cutting, hauling, splitting, and stacking. You know the old saw — “Firewood warms ya twice.”  You work hard making it, and then it warms you as a fire.  Indeed.

Hold on there, fellow Pennsylvanians.  Spring must be just around the corner.  Just a few weeks from now, the air should be in the mid-forties, smelling slightly earthy and damp, and a robin here and there will join the cardinal in the back yard.  Then you know relief is upon us.  Hold on.  You are in good company.

Climate change claims can’t ever be wrong

If you haven’t done so already, pay attention to global warming/ climate change claims.

Whenever the weather is hot, or cold, or windy, or in a lull, the vacuous claims are bandied about that these occurrences are evidence of “climate change” or “global warming.”

We’ve had an unusually cold winter. Why, it reminds me of the ones I used to know in my childhood. Do you, too, recall the deep snows on roads and huge piles of plowed snow in parking lots of the 1970s?

That snow was considered normal back then. Then we had twenty years of warm winters. Now we’ve had two years of cold winters. It’s certainly not global warming! Why, could it not simply be the natural variation of a complex, large weather system in a complex planet?

No matter what, people claiming that current weather is evidence of some bigger trend cannot ever be wrong. No matter what the weather is, they ascribe it to their favorite sky-is-falling environmental crisis du jour. It is a pretty ingenious way to argue, you have to admit: They just cannot ever be wrong. No matter what the evidence is – black or white, Saturday or Wednesday, Mars or Venus, cold, hot, very cold, very hot, lukewarm, tepid, accurate or inaccurate – or when it occurs, it all proves the same thing to promoters of human-caused climate change.

And the fact is that there are real environmental quality issues that need to be addressed and resolved. One that is near to my heart is the high grading of private forests, where the best commercial trees are removed and the junk trees are left behind. This creates huge swathes of forest with little habitat value for animals, and little present or future commercial value for landowners and the surrounding society that needs their forest products.

How sad that high grading forests is accomplished with such simple emotional appeals: “Why Mabel, we will just take the big trees, and leave the little ones for later. There’ll be lots of green left in your woods,” goes the high-grader’s sales pitch.

Because western clearcutting was so damaging to western ecosystems, clearcutting got a bad name back east. Back here most of our private forests are at a point where it’s either clearcutting most of our private woods, or allowing forest fire to shape them. Most of our private forests need to be re-set to zero. That will provide maximum diversity and the broadest habitat and commercial values.

But like claims of global climate change, clearcutting is another false boogey man whose opponents are driven by emotions, and not science. And the real damage is allowed to go on under the false guise of “protecting” the forests.

Burst pipes? You were in good company

Ten days ago, weather across the country was bitterly cold. Polar vortex, solar lull, regular winter weather…seems there’s a bunch of possible causes. One defining characteristic of that week-long deep freeze was the amount of burst pipes across the country, and around central Pennsylvania. Our home had burst pipes, and a property I manage had burst pipes, and the plumbers at both jobs told me they had spent days from six in the morning until late at night working on nothing but burst pipes. The big box stores were either short on or out of key plumbing components, which caused further delays in getting homes and businesses functioning again.

Which is all to say, I have never heard so many creative reports about where families washed their clothes and dishes. Many went to neighbors, friends, or nearby families. Some went to churches. Some used water from nearby creeks. As damaging as that freeze was, it only bolstered people’s spirit and resolve to carry on, and it cemented a feeling of community and caring among many people who normally just say “Hi” to each other coming home from work.

I found that refreshing.

You call this global warming?

Not only is the northern hemisphere in a deep freeze, a bunch of “climate change scientists” looking for evidence to support their religion … Oops … I mean their theory, got frozen in the Antarctic ice. Their ship is immobilized because so much ice is not only not melting, but actually increasing. Rescue ships also got frozen.
Members of the crew said it was the most ice they’d seen in years.
Guess what? Planet Earth is a dynamic place, with dynamic weather patterns and a multitude of factors simultaneously influencing climate.
Trying to ascribe cause-and-effect to these factors, or even worse, claiming to know what’s really happening with all these factors, is not science.
It’s politics, for sure. We know how clean that is.
Its adherents behave as though they’re in a cult, or at least in some charismatic religion.
Too many environmental groups use crisis to whip up support for their causes and to fund raise. Climate change appears to be one more scare tactic. The evidence just isn’t there to support the claims. Today’s zero temperature is classic.
But if you want to talk about overfishing the oceans, loss of farmland, loss of critical wildlife habitat, good wildlife management, why then reasonable people are interested.
In the mean time, I’m shoveling loads of carbon…oops, sorry, I mean firewood, into our wood stove as we trade yesterday’s carbon for today’s heat. Seems like a good and sustainable trade to me.

From here on out, it’s all downhill

Yesterday was the Winter Solstice. The shortest day of the year. In a winter-dreary location like Central Pennsylvania, it also marks the beginning of longer days, leading to sunnier days. From here on out until June 21st, it’ll be easier sailing.

Sure, we’ve burned half our firewood and we expect the balance to be gone by February’s end, but just knowing that our friendly neighborhood sunlight will be filtering in more often is a reason for hope. And no, annual trips to islands and warm beaches just do not seem to break winter’s grey grip.