Down T'Home

I capitulate

By Marion Tucker-Honeycutt | Dec 27, 2017

It seems every year I put off admitting that winter is really going to come. But by now, I see no way around it, except straight through it...and pile another blanket on the bed.

I am thankful that I no longer have to head out early in the morning to get to a job. And I can more easily decide to put off 'til tomorrow what I had planned for today so, if it's too dang cold or the roads are bad, I just turn the furnace up a notch or put another log in the stove and settle back. Age does, indeed, have its privileges.

Now that I've accepted that winter's here, like it or not, I turn my attention to things I can enjoy about it. First off, there's nothing as friendly and comforting as a good fire in the parlor stove. Unlike the uneven heat of a furnace, the stove heat stays steady and the slight smell of wood smoke tops it off.

Finally, just this week, I got out my Hudson's Bay "Six Beaver" blanket and my favorite quilt that my niece made for me.

The Hudson Bay Co., a fur trading adventure in Canada, started, after some rough setbacks, in the mid-1600s, with a grant from King Charles of England. They traded top-quality wool blankets, made in England, for furs with the Indians in the cold wilds of Canada's Hudson Bay region.

The blankets were called "Point Blankets." On one side edge, black stripes about 4 inches long were woven. The number of stripes designated the size and the number of beaver furs traded for them. There were three sizes: the double with 4 points, 6 points for queen and 8 for king.

They came in two basic color schemes: red with a wide black band toward the top and foot and the white with stripes in red, yellow, green and black. The latter ones were the most popular with hunters and trappers to make into long, super warm coats.

Hudson Bay Co. is actually still in business, going on 400 years. The blankets are still high-quality but you have to be careful of knock-offs. They cost several hundred dollars from the company, but my son snagged mine on eBay for a song. It came in its original HBC vintage box and has the authentic label. I have the 6-point, queen size which hangs all the way down both sides of my twin bed. No drafts! (My dog loves it, too.)

I now snuggle down in my cold bedroom — I don't heat my bedroom — snug-a-bug as a hibernating bear. (I wish I could stay there, like a bear, 'til spring.)

I also hauled my “bear coat" out of storage. It's a car-coat-length, dark brown suede coat with a thick shearling lining and a fully-lined hood. (I'd hate to think what it cost new. I picked it up a few years ago at a thrift shop for $8.95.) It's as heavy as if made from a bearskin. And just as warm. I did splurge and get a pair of new brown, shearling-lined boots and mittens to match. Not even my toes get cold in shearling.

My favorite outdoor activity has always been snowshoeing. My Grampa Roy had me on snowshoes by age 5. He made snowshoes the old Canadian Indian style, complete with red and green tufts of yarn on the sides, and for Christmas one year, made me a scaled-down pair.

I've been here in my house over a quarter-century now. I loved to go off on my snowshoes in the forest down back after a new layer of snow, off into the silent new white world. Often, I'd take some hot dogs and make a bowl-size hole in the snow, fill it with dry branches off pine trees and make a fire.

I can't safely go off snowshoeing on my own anymore. I'll have to see if there's someone in the family brave enough to take me out. If I fall down these days, it's no easy job getting upright again. But I think I'll dig out my handmade Alaskan mukluks, a gift some years ago, just in case.

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award-winning columnist, a Maine native and graduate of Belfast schools, now lives in Morrill. Her columns appear in this paper every other week.


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