It's been cold here for the last week. As soon as the sun goes down, a thick fog develops and the temperature goes down to about 28 F. With the waning moon, it gets really dark and cold, the lights from our neighbors barely visible and the noise from the road deadened. Walking across the field to feed the sheep, I can slip into imagining that the world outside my headlight beam has fallen away and I've gone adrift in space. I had a hard time recognizing my own sheep last night; in the dim light of the dying LEDs, they all looked white to me. I was wondering what happened to all the black and brown ones--where's Woglinde? Yvette? Gretchen? Rita Hayworth? There's the right number of sheep here, but they're not all mine, are they? Looking closer, I realized that they really were my sheep, but their fleeces were all painted silver with frost. It wasn't yet 7:00 PM.
When the sun comes up, the sky rarely clears and we've been lucky to get out of the 40's F. The frigid mornings are not without beauty; every spiderweb spun in the length of summer, every tuft of wool left behind by a wandering sheep, is frosted and rimed. The heads of the grasses are made more beautiful by the white highlights, and even blackberry leaves become appealing when outlined in ice.
But, it is cold, and there's work to do. Hauling in yet another load of wood to feed the constantly-burning fireplace can keep me warm for a little while, making the rounds of the animals and hucking hay bales out of the truck. But that warmth dissipates before all the work is done, and it seems the chill fog can touch your skin through anything. So, the tool of the week has to be:
Carhartt Flannel-Lined Jeans.
When we moved here, we became aware of the various local tribes, how they distinguished themselves from each other and which to ally ourselves with. One such division was the Filson/Carhartt schism. Both are authentic and very much of this area. The Filsonian culture is somewhat wealthier, and biased towards timber, ranching, and fly-fishing. The Tribe Carhartt, at least locally, drives an older pick-up truck than the Filsonians, won't be seen in town during hunting season, and is more likely to have traces of its trade--caulk, manure, and such--anointing its trademark tan jacket.
I wouldn't mind clothing myself in Filson and doing as the Filsonians do; I'd probably have more time to go hiking and such. However, this morning, as most mornings, I got on my Carhartt flannel-lined jeans (with permanent stains on the knees from kneeling in pens to deal with kids and lambs), my Carhartt jacket (with paint stains, s#!t stains, tattoo ink stains, blood stains, and miscellaneous small rips), and my Carhartt watch cap (similarly stained, and which the Real Doctor concluded was my tool for cleaning the underside of the house), and marched out into the freezing fog to feed the sheep. Flannel-lined jeans make life better.