Happy February from Brettuns Village - today is the 11th which means we've reached the ceremonial 50% mark of Winter. Only four more
months to go. We've started a new thing on the site we're calling our 'Weekly Deal' but before I tell you about it we're pleased to present
the following public service announcement:
Can you walk in cold weather without letting the skin of your legs touch the inside of your britches? This is something you'll need to
master before you pack up the truck and move the family to Maine. The key things to remember if you want to survive winter up here, all
eight months of it, are as follows:
1. Keep the knees straight yet flexible: Can't let them bend too much but you still need to be spry enough to keep from slipping on ice,
greasy snow, or the wonderful new calcium brine solution that the town truck sprays on the roads to keep ice from forming. This is why every
single car in New England is white right now. But it's low sodium, and it works, so what the heck. Knees straight, but flexible.
Pretend you're made from plywood and you have to twist your hips and shoulders together as one, left, right, left, right, to make forward
progress. Posture - That's Rule 1.
2. Choose your britches intelligently: If you're out on the roads at the right time of the morning you'll catch the local teen agers
waiting for the school bus. There they are, standing in a hollowed out snowbank, looking sullen, frowning a bit, and shivering from head
to toe. These are the ones who choose the skin-tight jeans, which we used to call 'Mick Jaggers,' and you can see right there that they
made an unwise choice. Over at the other end of the snowbank are that group that my Galliwags call the 'Skater Dudes.' Hair in the eyes,,
huge jacket, and pants large enough to get their own zip code, but these dudes aren't shivering. They know that air space means
insulation. That's got to be the reason they wear those baggy drawers and why they often have high GPAs. Air space. That's what you need.
3. Footwear: In the closet you've got those fancy Italian made shoes with leather soles, the ones my Dad would have called Dancing
Slippers, but leave them right there in the closet until the snow finally melts, which should be about the second week of June this
year. When selecting appropriate footwear, don't bother looking at the top of the boot (known as the upper). Turn that thing over and
look at the bottom. What you want to see are peaks and valleys - tread - along the lines of something you'd see on the tires at a
monster truck rally. Traction is what you're after. If you don't see obvious traction-inducing tread down there, then you've got to get
yourself a pair of what the ice fisherman (hopeless alcohol abusers who have convinced themselves that they're having fun out there when
it's 14 below and blowing 45) call 'Creepers.' These are little strap-on deals that put some ice picks on the bottom of your dancing
slippers. Stable footwear. Very important.
4. Vision: Your best bet for safe forward progress while keeping warm is to always know what's ahead of you. Just like running a
business. Only with flannel. When it's cold and blowing it can be tough to keep your vision clear - tears tend to well up when the
breeze hits the face, or when ice crystals blow into your eye and act like 40-grit sandpaper against the cornea. This, as you might expect,
blurs the vision, and can cause you to not see that glare ice patch. You're thinking about keeping your knees straight, flopping along like
a cardboard cut-out of Roger Landry, only with a big puffy air-space-ridden jacket on, but the wind has your eyes tearing up and
you never see that clear, glass-like patch of ice that's right there next to the driver's side door on the pickup, and when you reach for
the door handle all you grab is air, and that strange sense of falling sets in. That's because you ARE falling, Chester, so, as they like to
say along the Hudson, Brace for Impact. Keep a paper towel or old t-shirt in one hand as you flop along, and use it to keep your eyes
clear. Eye on the prize, eye on the enemy. That's number 4.
5. Padding: It's inevitable. You've got a meeting with Mr. Ice, but the time and date aren't set yet. We're all going to hit the deck a
time or two this winter, so let's be ready. This goes back to the 'air space in your duds' rule presented earlier, but is worthy of a
stand-alone rule. You know those catalogs you get that have lots of winter coats in them? Well, forget the fact that almost all of those
coats were made in some tropical place where the 11 year old who was running the sewing machine had slept in a hammock outside the night
before, and works in a building with no windows because the weather is always so nice and perfect and a flat line 79 degrees every single day
of the year, gosh darn it, complete with tropical bird sounds and palm trees and coconut rum for breakfast and... sort of drifted away there.
What this kid knows how to do is make jackets that are perfect for our winters. I don't get it either. Anyway, the catalog shows some
nice looking lambskin stuff, sleek numbers with belts that tie in the front, etc. Turn back to page 20 or so and there you'll find the
goose down jackets, which look like the Michelin Man after he's been skun out by the taxidermist. This is what you need. It's warm, and
when your bumpkin hits the hardpan you'll almost be happy you fell. You've survived, you're warm, and you look like a big marshmallow with
teary eyes and monster truck boots.
Moving to Florida sounds a little better with each passing day.
Deal of the Week? What's all this about a Deal of the Week? In an effort to force you against your will to return to our website now and
again, we've instituted the Deal of the Week program. Each Wednesday morning, as we did only minutes ago, just before the literary cramps
set in that told me it was time to create a newsletter, we update the Deal of the Week section of our website. We find something on the
shelf, something that we have a lot of, and we mark it down for one week. It may be something you want, may be something you hate, but
there it is, just the same. We started this last week, but I didn't e-mail you about it, so when you take a look at the D-O-T-W this week
you'll see both last week's and this week's deals on there. Here's a link:
Or just go to the home page on our Leather site, or the Site Map. Updated every Wednesday, subject to some disclaimers, such as I
probably won't update it during the week I'm down in Florida looking for a place to thaw out. If that week ever happens.
Stay warm, and stay quiet about it.