My mother has passed, but I think of her every day. Especially this time of year.
When it was cold out, she wore earmuffs. And quilted puffer coats. And colorful fuzzy beanie hats. And high boots with fluff sticking out of them. When I was young I'd tease her in the manner that young girls have when they tease the mother they love, and I'd run out of the house in jeans and sneakers to play in the snow for hours, barely feeling the cold. Only "old" people, I thought, had to wear silly clothes.
I would come home to drink hot chocolate with mini marshmallows, the cuffs of my jeans crusted denim origami, my feet numb red anchors at the end of my legs. But as soon as my stuff dried, out the door I'd go again.
It never occurred to me that it was cold. Or that I should be inside because it was cold. Or that I should complain about not having warm clothes to wear in the cold. I made do. All of us just made do. What was our choice? We sat in snow forts, went ice skating and sledding, and had snow ball fights until the sun became a traitor and sunk behind the horizon.
Beautiful, uncomplicated, seamless childhood days.
Even in college, I refused to let snow be a deterrent. I went to school in the Pocono Mountains, but even three feet of snow could not keep me from wearing high heels. I have distinct memories of some really cool parties miles off campus. Negative twenty degree wind chill, and there we were, in high heels, walking in snow and ice across highways and fields.
Those parties were worth it.
My college roommate (and still my best friend) was a smart dresser. She came from stylish and affluent Lower Merion, and had the cool warm look nailed. She wore duck boots, a quilted jean jacket, and a big wrap around scarf. Under these over garments were cool faded slouch jeans and a V-neck sweater, under which lay a crisp white cotton Gap t-shirt. She topped the look with a pair of Ray Ban Wayfarers.
(I think I've been trying to emulate that look since the day I met her. But she was listening to Toad the Wet Sprocket and Bryan Ferry Roxy Music when I was singing along with Scandal, Richard Marx and Rick Astley. My musical taste matched my polyester Deb outfits.)
But I have winter licked now. I bought a Puffer.
Yeah, those big amorphous puffer coats you see on people at 6 a.m. walking their dogs in the frigid cold? I got one. I use it to walk my dog at 6 a.m. in the frigid cold.
I use it for everything. Pre-Puffer, I was afraid of the cold. My birds would not get fed. Trash night would sometimes be overlooked. I would find every excuse to not run small errands. My ... butt was always cold.
But now, Post-Puffer, I am a child of the cold. I walk around my yard and run errands with arrogance. The cold cannot penetrate the Puffer. Even on the coldest night, I can enjoy a walk with my dog in the clean fresh air. For the Puffer protects me. I love my Puffer.
But the Puffer ain't pretty. My curves disappear, and the lines and shapes that make my work clothes attractive don't exist on my chocolate brown Puffer. But I love it anyway.
I just took the trash out. I put on my chocolate brown Puffer. God was kind to send us some Christmas snow, so I threw on my Ugg snow boots. I couldn't find my normal hat so I reached into the hat basket and pulled out a red hat.
It was my mom's red beanie hat that I had saved. I put it on, and smiled as I looked at myself in the mirror.
Big puffy coat.