For every thing there is a time and a season. Such wise words but how often do we consider the seasons when we think about our shaving routines. So often we say, “This would be a good after shave for the summertime” or we say “I'll save this until the fall or winter.” There's no doubt that each of the four seasons present certain events and climate conditions, but probably more important than these considerations are the emotional needs we face as one season moves to the next.
Every year in February my mind often wanders through the pages of my memory and about one of the most precious and best buddies I will ever hope to have in my entire life. He was my first "buddy" and I was his "shadow". Wherever he went I was there, unless I was sleeping, eating supper or taking a bath. Now this goes way back in time, actually almost 50 years ago.
My best buddy lived next door and between the ages of 3 to 6 we were inseparable. I didn’t start school until I was 6 years old. First Grade was the first year I attended school. That was the first year they started Kindergarten at my elementary school. I just missed it and I am very glad I did. I would have wasted most of the last year my buddy and I had together.
I will never forget sitting on the enclosed front porch of my buddy’s house next door and watching the birds frolic and snow fall, and the rain, the lightening flash and listening to the children playing in the school down the block. Sitting on that couch, which happened to also be his bed, we could go anywhere. We could go fishing, sailing a boat, driving a car, riding a stage coach across the plains. Anything was possible when my buddy and I were together.
The month of February was a difficult time for him. He always said that he would be alright if he could make it through February. February was a blustery, cold, dark month when going outside was almost impossible. He hated being cooped up inside the house. Yet just past February was March and March ushered in spring planting, grass growing, tilling the soil and making the beginnings of a flower and vegetable garden that would last all the way until October and Winter was here again. February was a short month but felt like being sentenced to a long stint in prison away from the sunshine and fresh air.
Just after Christmas in January and February seed catalogs would start showing up in the mail box. An exciting time for us. Many days were spent sitting on the front porch, sitting side by side on the couch, pouring over seed catalogs and selecting what items to order, making sure they arrived in time for springtime planting. Some things required quick decisions because potatoes had to be planted by St. Patrick’s Day in March. Other things could be decided upon later and a second order mailed in if something did not need planting until later in May or June. This helped us make it through the gloomy days of February.
I don’t remember the exact sequence of things, being so young, but certain things I distinctly remember because they were important and significant events in my life. The fifth and sixth years of my short life on the earth kicked off a series of events that in so many ways has shaped every subsequent day of my life. The year of my fifth birthday I experienced my first major loss to death when my maternal grandfather passed after a battle with cancer and a series of losses continued for the next three years ending with the death of my father also from cancer when I was just eight years old. Just a couple of months prior to my sixth birthday in February I also lost my buddy. He didn't make it through February to March that year.
You see my buddy's life partner, just a week or so earlier, had died suddenly of a heart attack and I think he decided he would just follower her on her journey. They had been together for over 50 years. She was my paternal grandmother, Margaret and my buddy was my grandfather, John R. Hallock. I was his name sake and he taught me so very much about life and being a man. He gave me one of my first glimpses into the world of shaving but more than anything else he taught me how to appreciate the seasons.
I often think about “Pop”, that’s what my mother called him, when I select my shaving products before a shave. I didn’t call him “Pop”, to me he was just “Grandpa.” I really don’t remember what kind of shaving products he used but I often ask myself, “What would Grandpa use on a day like today?” It makes coming to a decision easier for me at times. Grandpa would probably pick something that didn't go with the season. If it was winter he would choose something from summer, a sweet rose or fruity scent. He was always looking toward the future. This time of year in February he would pick something flowery or citrusy – a springtime or summertime flavor such a lilac or maca root. In the fall he would go for the Christmas time scents and at Christmas he would choose just about anything but the common things for that time of year. Peppermint and menthol I know he would use year round because he was never without at least a couple of peppermint candies in his shirt or watch pocket. A treat to share with his "Little Buddy".
My tinkering spirit came from my Grandpa. He was always tinkering with something, whether making a lawn chair from scraps of second hand wood or crushing apples, grapes, or peaches in an old wooden fruit press to make cider or homemade wine. He probably could have come up with some good shaving products. I wish I had his recipe for “horse liniment” that was so very good for muscle aches and pains.
Many of the vintage razors in my collection came from my Grandpa. I kept them for so many years due to the love, affection and memories of just having something that belonged to him. I did not use them for many years but I carried them everywhere I lived in an old cigar box. I saw my first straight razor shave standing at the knee, just looking up and watching him lather a puck of soap with a scruffy old boar brush and strop his razor on the well broken in leather strap that hung behind the bathroom door.
Some seasons in life we can do nothing more than to simply be resolved to endure and emerge on the other side to a better and happier season but every season has a time and every time we pick up a brush and razor we have an opportunity to select products that can transport us to another time and place, to a place in time when the memories are sweeter and the events happier than what we are currently enduring in our day to day lives.
I close each video or SOTD or blog posting with the phrase “Good Shaves, Be Happy, Be Safe”. I do so for a reason. How we look upon each day, each shave, each season of our life can be significantly influenced by how we choose to face it. Even in the dead of the cold harsh winter we can experience, if just for a few minutes in our shaves, a completely different season and be transported to a completely different place in space and time, simply by the choices of products we use that day. We can influence the outcome of our day and our life in general by "choosing" how we paint the picture of our situation in our mind's eye...the window and pathway to our future.
When talking about the weather and the progression of the yearly calendar we are limited to only four seasons, but we can experience an endless number of moods and seasons through the front porch window of our mind and senses during our shaves.
Good Shaves, Be Happy, Be Safe