The nights grow long and with them my level of boredom. I am between series and I find myself on Youtube as often as not, telling myself I am looking up a thing, but really, I am cruising the latest news on the Harkles — I didn’t make that up, someone else did —and then I want snow, so I visit weather sites, which leads to snow camping, which leads to camping inside your car, which leads to doing so in winterscapes, which leads to Walmart and Cracker Barrel overnight stays, and then I am in a camping gear review jungle, which leads to survival camping, which leads back to the snow, bringing us to fire starters and survival and bushcraft knives.
You can’t imagine how many knives.
Hand-made knives, Scandi blades, some with bow drill divots in the handle, stainless steel blades, high carbon steel blades, four inch long blades, eight inch, ten. Hand-made leather sheaths, plastic sheaths, other kinds of sheaths that ride high, ride low, can be clipped sideways behind your back, which gives off a serious stealthy self-defense vibe.
And ferro rods. All of the videos I watch feature individuals with enough pockets to house several small lighters, but they all build fires by striking sparks into a little nest of wood shavings with a ferro rod. Now, the ferro rod is a slender rod crafted of ferrocerium, an alloy of materials that make lots of sparks when struck.
The are small and will work when wet, cold, hot, you name it, and affordable as all get out. Mine arrived last week and I spent a good half hour outside in the dark thrilling myself with all the mighty sparks I was throwing. This afternoon I plan to set alight something combustable to see if I can start a fire in earnest. I have loads of lighters around here, but honestly, it is just so tough to be able harness fire in this sparkly way.
The ferro rods come with a small metal striker, but, really, you want one of the survival knives for that, one with a flat spine. Again, because it is just so tough. My choices in survival/camp/bushcraft knives are so extensive, I will need a few more hours in front of the TV to decide.
These videos lead to other videos, especially of the prepper persuasion, and I can now heat a corner of my house for several weeks with a match, a long taper and a can of Crisco.
Warmth is a big theme in wilderness survival as well as with the doomsday crowd. Toward that end, I have also purchased a stack of those survival blankets, the shiny ones that look like you are wrapping up in party balloon material. Well, actually, you are. But they can save your life.
As t the small packs of hand-warmers I have sitting in a box in my vestibule might save your life. They aren’t just for your hands while sitting at the football game or up in the deer blind. You can throw them into your sleeping bag, your socks, lots of places to keep you warm.
A canteen filled with hot water can be taken into that same sleeping bag or under the mylar blanket, and clutched in desperation against your chest—it, too, can keep you warm.
Which led me to some web pages for plain old garden variety hot water bottles. Our cousins across the pond love them, use them almost every night, and I have friends who set their houseguests up with them, too.
And they are the most wonderful things. Why don’t we use them more often?
If you come visit me overnight, I can fix you a hot water bottle. I have several. And when I fix you that hot water bottle, it will be cute, too, because it will be wearing a sweet little cable knit sweater, a turtleneck sweater, to be exact. When I ordered my hot water bottles, I was led to Etsy, and an artisan in Latvia knit these for me.
So, lots of old and new going on over here. All the algorithms advancing my horizons in new ways, taking me to sites that embrace and celebrate starting fires with sparks, sleeping in the snow under a tarp, warming the family around a can of Crisco, a hot water bottle at your feet, which will surely hasten every sweet dream.