The Armchair Rambler - Rolling Stone
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The Armchair Rambler

Let your fingers do the walking, hunting, camping . . .

armchairs, fireplace

A man and a women sitting in armchairs to read in front of a fireplace. Circa 1951

SSPL/Getty Images

The real trick to enjoying the outdoors in winter is to stay indoors. But you must bring the outdoors indoors. Don’t be persuaded that outdoor equipment catalogs are for the outdoors. No. They are the key that unlocks the outdoors and lets you bring it indoors. You must create a certain ambiance, a mood — that outdoor feeling. May your catalog be your guide.

If it snowed this morning I would peek out from under the down quilt I made myself with a Frostline kit, and you can bet I would be wearing my red Duofold Union Suit pajamas, with the flap in back, from Gokey. Gokey’s Bird Clock on the wall says it’s four quails past a pheasant and time to rise and shine.

Spritely I would slip on my Kelty Down Booties with drawstrings, an inflated version of the booties Mary Hartman is wearing this season. I would wriggle out of my Union Suit and into Norm Thompson’s Angora Body-Sweater “for men and women who have been cold once and don’t want to be cold again!” Then a few flashing moments of cold floorboards on the way to the record player to put on Orvis’ How to Call Wild Turkey.

Next I would light a fire with two sticks of Georgia Fatwood (“Truly fatwood. Two sticks start a roaring blaze”), which I would keep in Orvis’ Georgia Fatwood Wooden Bucket by the fireplace, if I had a fireplace. Naturally my fireplace would be decorated with Gokey’s Game Bird Tiles.

In front of the fire I would button myself into one of my many plaid flannel shirts, daydreaming of Linda Darnell and Cornel Wilde, and slip on a pair of Kelty’s hiking shorts over my bodysweater. But perhaps the special Bicentennial Tartan floor-length kilt my mother sent me from Scotland will arrive instead, which would look nice with Norm Thompson’s Sheepskin Slippers.

Now I am quite hungry, so I cook an egg in my English Egg Coddler, which simmers in a Kelty Nesting Billie on my L.L. Bean Fireplace Grill, and eat the egg with a brain spoon from Herter’s taxidermy supplies, while sitting before the fire on my as yet unopened L.L. Bean Food Firkin. My hunger assuaged, I prepare for later a complete “Brace of Birds” dinner (shall I have Mallard or Pheasant?) with Mahnomen (means “good berry” in Indian) Wild Rice, which Gokey’s ships, birds and all, crated in dry ice. I pack these victuals into my charming English Wicker Picnic Basket from Gokey’s also, which comes with charming dishes, utensils, cups, thermos bottles and containers.

Ah, time to curl up in the Snowshoe Rocker I ordered from Holubar. Equipped with my Eddie Bauer Survival Kit (you never know), I wrap up in my Hudson Bay Blanket (at our house we couldn’t decide between the Red-with-Black-Stripe and White-with-Candy-Stripes so we settled on Green-with-Black Stripe), tuck a Trapunto Grouse Pillow under my head, rest my feet on my food firkin (which doubles as a hassock), set coffee brewing on my Sierra Pocket Stove and bathe myself in the warm light of my Mallard Decoy Lamp. Orvis makes the handsomest decoy lamp, I think. You might prefer Herter’s Gun-Butt Base or Casual Living’s Pier-Piling Base. All the lampshades are ugly. If you buy from Casual Living, you should know they also trade in “actual beads taken from Egyptian tombs” and voodoo dolls, in case your karma is already in a sling.

From between two L.L. Bean Decoy Bookends I select a book — perhaps How to Live with a Bitch (and avoid divorce) written by George Herter himself, of Herter’s catalog. George’s book notwithstanding, Herter’s is a very serious catalog, filled with sophisticated hunting devices with which hunters are attempting to cull mentally unfit game and upgrade the species by forcing them to outwit technology. Herter’s feathers, flies and fishing lures are like little works of art, but the most captivating item in the whole catalog is their Imported Frog Harness, which skewers the frog through the snout, legs and crotch without, however, killing it. It seems to me that the people who model clothes in Herter’s catalog are pretty meanlooking. I pour hot coffee into my Drake Widgeon Decoy Mug from Gokey and settle down to read.

A thought intrudes. What of the birds? My Pentax monocular (which Norm Thompson sells) hangs from its strap nearby on Herter’s Decoy Head Coat Rack. This particular monocular reverses as a microscope, which might come in handy when using Gokey’s Nose Hair Scissors (quaint but not very outdoorsy). I spy the Droll Yankee Bird Feeder I have hung outside the window, reckoning the birds could use a laugh in the snow.

In the afternoon, after snacking on Lobster Bisque and Maple Syrup from my firkin, washed down with brandy from my Norm Thompson copper-lined British Hip Flask, I am ready for a snooze. I switch on Herter’s Sleep Maker and Nervous Tension Breaker, setting it somewhere in between “gentle breeze” and “wind in pine trees.” Covering my head with my Eddie Bauer Camouflage Veil, I let the L.L. Bean “Scotty” Chemical Reaction Hand Warmer fall from my grasp, overcome with sleep.

Twilight. Well-rested, I strap on my Gokey’s Bottes Sauvages (savage boots) which have been warmed by Gokey’s Electric Boot Dryers. Like all my finer things, I have branded my bottes with Gokey’s Personal Branding Iron. With mounting excitement, I pull on my Eddie Bauer Goose Down Face Mask. Now I grip my Orvis Wrist Rocket Slingshot and fire fishing lures at Herter’s “Kill and Disable” Silhouette Target above the fireplace. With infinite patience and my Eddie Bauer Pocket Diamond Knife Sharpener, I hone the blade of my Bushwacker Machete from I. Goldberg and whack the heads off the coatrack, the lamp, the bookends and the gaggle of Canadian Goose Decoys gathered around the fireplace. I fear not, for in my L.L. Bean Decoy Bag I have a supply of Decoy Heads from L.L. Bean’s Decoy Repair Kit. In a frenzy I shoot three Red Skyblazer Distress Flares out the window and throw a CO2 cartridge into the dying fire.

Night falls. Wearily I tug my Kelty Wonder Headlamp around my forehead to light my way as I trudge off to bed, my Eddie Bauer Puma Knife warily between my teeth. Tomorrow I shall order some Sheepskin Seat Covers for my car. Someday I would like to spend the whole day reading catalogs in my car with the windows rolled up. 

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