There is an old aphorism that says “the more things change, the more they stay the same”, and there sure seems to be a lot of truth in that. Obviously in some cases things that worked for...whatever, will cycle back around and become useful again. But in some cases needs and solutions just fluctuate a bit in aesthetics and appearance, but largely remain the same in essence. Take cooking pots and clothing for example, We haven't always had stainless steels, Pyrex glass, or synthetic cloth, but we have been cooking our food in various styles of vessels for hundred of years, and we have been putting on clothing made of many different materials to protect our bodies from the elements even longer. In both of these cases the needs have remained the same the entire time, and only the solutions have evolved.
Today it's super steels and the latest synthetic handle materials that take center stage when it comes to discussions of cutlery, and most of the world's population no longer uses shards of stone to scrape hides with, throw the sparks that light their cooking fires, or prepare and portion their foods, but that hasn't always been the case. There was a time in our history when stones and the various ways of knapping them to optimize their shapes and edges for various tasks were the very pinnacle of our technology. Though, to be completely honest, it wouldn't surprise me even a little if specific colors hues and patterns in the stones were all the rage in the edc gear our our ancient ancestors. Looking closely at what little of our history did get recorded thousands of years ago, and all of the artifacts that have been discovered, I have a sneaking suspicion the human mind may not have changed quite as much over the centuries as some may think.
Yet just because we no longer have a need to use a sharp pieces of stone to fashion the things we use daily, doesn't mean we never need to cut anything now. Nor does it mean we never need to make something we need, and quickly in the spur of the moment. In the process of my work and hobbies, along with raising two daughters who have gotten involved in a lot of different projects over the years, school and otherwise, there have been a lot of instances where I needed to cut string, cut cardboard and poster board, sharpen pencils, and make funnels and other necessary components. All of these things are tasks that I learned to do my pocket knife as a kid, but in time came to prefer small fixed blades over a folders for safety reasons. The folders of the time were more portable, but the fixed blades never closed on my fingers.
Foraging for food is another long time skill of we humans, and it's one that a great many of our ancestors spent thousands of years developing. But as a general rule these days most folks only go foraging at their local grocery store, and if we're really lucky there are even one or two in the city we live in that only puts our health and well being a notch or two below their profit margin in their order or priority. When others would have us question the safety of eating wild foods, while encouraging us to enjoy their much safer herbicide and pesticide soaked produce. and meats often marinaded with hormones and antibiotics in the course of their being produced in a form of animal husbandry that is devoid of any signs of humanity. Though I don't do as much hunting these days as I once did, I do still enjoy foraging for wild mushrooms in the autumn. And while some may argue that eating wild mushrooms can be dangerous, I would suggest there is a good deal of evidence to support the notion that putting anything in your body, regardless of origin, without knowing exactly what your ingesting can be a very dangerous thing to do.
As a general rule I prefer fresh tasting foods. So even when what I eat while I'm in the woods working or hiking are foods I brought there myself, I still prefer for them to not be pre-sliced ones, even when they do happen to be prepackaged which isn't very often. One of the reasons behind disliking pre-sliced foods is the annoyance of paying more money per measure of weight for less of something, simply because someone has already done something I am perfectly capable of doing for myself, and which at times I'd rather do myself because I like my way better. Another reason for this is the accelerated spoilage of pre-sliced foods due to more surface being exposed to air. Whole foods keep longer, and out in the field that is a quality that is appreciated by most of us who spend long hours out and about working remotely.
Speaking of accelerated spoilage, eating various fresh fruits is my favorite way to approach late night snacks when my work days run over-long. Most fruits start the process of oxidizing, turning brown, the moment we cut into them. But bananas and avocados, which are my favorite fruit snacks, seem to start oxidizing the quickest of all. My grandmother had banana trees and avocado trees in her back yard in Hialeah, and I've just never grown tired of either, but having eaten many of both, I know why we never see either of them presliced or prepackaged in a store. Not even in the chilled section of the produce department. No, bananas don't require cutting, but tearing into avocados can be pretty messy, and I prefer to approach it in a civilized manner.
No, we don't use smoke signals to send messages anymore, but we still like to communicate. We don't use the burned tips of sticks to write on cave walls on a regular basis either, but we still like to make entries and drawings in our notebooks. Most of us seldom smack a sharp stone with a piece of steel to throw sparks into char to ignite our tinder, but many of us still use a form of flint and steel to produce flames. Sun dials have largely been made obsolete by clocks and watches that work on cloudy days and at night. And no we don't carry shards of stone in leather pouches as our edc cutting tools anymore. We have much more durable steel blades with aesthetically pleasing and comfortable handles that we carry in handcrafted leather sheaths, because we still need to cut things now and then.
If you take a minute to stop and look around with an objective eye you may notice that in our world, much like with us people, it is only the trappings that have changed. The world itself is largely the same as it has ever been, and still functions the same way. In fact I'd be willing to bet that to most of the other inhabitants of our universe, those who look out at us from a distance the same as we look out at the heavenly bodies in our night sky, our little planet looks utterly unchanged.
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The term “surf and turf” usually relates to a dinner entree consisting of one protein from the land and one from the sea. Most of the time, this means steak and lobster or some form of red meat and shellfish or crustacean. If you’re looking to dine out on the frugal side, this menu item is usually on the other far side of the menu. I’m going to take some liberty with the term “surf and turf” and extend “surf” to the rivers and tributaries of the great lakes for the purpose of this monthly blog. I’m writing this and I get to set the rules. Trust me, this story is going to be worth bending the terms. You see, I’ve just had an epic week of hunting and fishing so this article for Fiddleback Forge was certainly going to include the amazing bow hunting experience in Kent, Connecticut and catching monster fish in Albion, New York. Granted, the cost of the gear and travel to get these menu items is far from frugal but the taste is priceless.
I've received requests for more information on the small pocket emergency kit that appears in my articles now and then. Some want to know more about it; how it developed and what it contains, so I thought I'd dedicate this article to it.
My work takes me to some interesting areas, especially lately. Some are more questionable than others, and it's usually late night or early morning prior to sunrise. To avoid disruptions and distractions I try to not draw attention. I try to just blend in with the environment, go gray so to speak and be uninteresting, but be prepared for mishaps knowing some could be life or death depending on environment and/or season. So these little kits have developed to contain a variety of contingency items, chosen based on their likelihood of use at the time and place, and still discretely disappear into a pouch or cargo pocket until needed.
Knives & News
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