I got out the old winter clothes a few nights ago. Winter clothes are like old friends. You don't see them for a while, and then, hey, there you are! Winter clothes are the best because they are the opposite of your fare weather friends: they only show up when you need them. If you are like me, and enjoy adventure and cold weather, they may have even saved your life a few times. As we went for a little walk around the neighborhood (baby ridiculously bundled) I realized that everything I was wearing had a story with it that I remembered fondly.
The jacket, a big suede coat with a fur lined hood, is the oldest thing, and was given to me by the Rotary Club of Malung, Sweden at about this time of year in 1991. (The weather there is remarkably similar to the weather here.) I think the owner of the factory must have been giving it to me, really, because Jan-Eric took me to the factory to pick one out. I wanted a green suede one, but Jan-Eric talked me out of it. "Green coats are a passing fad," he said. "A good, brown coat will last you forever."
I guess he was right that it would last me- I'm still wearing it- but I have to say, I still like green coats. I think I would still be wearing a green coat, too.
The gloves were acquired slightly illicitly. They're ultra soft lambs wool gloves that are wearing out fairly quickly. I stole them "accidentally" a year and a half ago. It was a very cold winter night, and I went to a play downtown, which requires some walking through the cold, as they don't have parking just anywhere downtown. The gloves I was wearing were those cheap shrink gloves that you get at Walgreens for a buck or two. I think the play was, "Walmartopia". It was packed. When I got up to leave the theater, I dropped my gloves on the ground. Everyone was leaving, and I was almost being pushed along by the crowd, and when I bent over and picked up the gloves, it wasn't my cheap gloves at all that I picked up, but this beautiful pair of lambs wool gloves. Yet it seemed to be the spot where I had dropped my cheap gloves. It was as thought they were transformed. "Hey! These aren't my gloves!" I said, but the crowd was shuffling me along, and I had a choice to make: I could put these beautiful gloves back down (do the right thing) and go without gloves in the subfreezing walk back to the car, or I could keep them. In any case, I could no longer go back and retrieve my own gloves- it was dark and people were pushing me on. For one desperate moment, I hesitated- and then- I kept them, and they were Lovely. And so warm! At least I left my gloves, so that if the owner came back to retrieve her lambs wool, she wouldn't completely freeze on the way home.
I did not regret my decision to keep the gloves at all.
The hat is a black knitted hat with flowers. When I rode the bus everywhere, I had a habit of taking my hat off on the warm bus and putting it on the seat next to me. A few times, I left it behind when I got off the bus, but always another bus rider came running after me, once as the door was closing and the bus was pulling off. I remember the urgency in the woman's voice and her hand stuck through the closing doors, "Your hat!!!" She was a black woman (black women often help me in public before all others), and I remember gratefully pulling the hat from between her brown, manicured fingers, uttering my thanks, and she looking at me, scoldingly, with the urgency of someone who perhaps has been without a hat in the cold. And thus she restored my faith in humanity, if for just a little while.