There’s something—maybe just something cultural, maybe something embedded in the human genome—but something about the cold dark days of winter prompts me to want to preserve and protect things.
I have a wooden spoon that I use to stir up Bubbles, our sourdough starter. (Folk wisdom is to avoid using metal tools with a sourdough starter.) I’ve used this spoon for many years now, and after all those years the wood was getting a bit furred.
So last week I got out some sandpaper, sanded down the rough bits, and then treated the wood with oil. I did the same thing with the wooden cutting board we use for the bread loaves.
With this task in mind, I got some flaxseed oil at the grocery store, with an eye toward it being a pretty finishing oil, as well as being food-safe.
I also have a leather jacket that I got more than 25 years ago when I was learning to ride a motorcycle, and that was similarly showing its age, and also needed a nice rubbing down with oil.
For the leather jacket I used neatsfoot oil. (It’s worth following that link. Neatsfoot oil is interesting stuff.) As long as I had the neatsfoot oil out, I went ahead and oiled a pair of leather boots too.
In all these cases I’m pleased with the results—I protected and preserved something, while also making it more beautiful. But more pleasing than the results, I think, was the process. Rubbing something with oil is a simple process, but one that rewards mindfulness in a way that makes it inherently meditative.
It makes caring for your stuff into a form of self-care, in the dark days of winter.