I’ve taken to wearing a hat indoors.
It’s part of my ruggedness wear. You know, how Stitch Fix sends you snazzy, coordinated tops and shoes and accessories? I don’t have that. I have two boxes in the downstairs closet with a remarkable array of souvenir hats and hats no fool would wear.
One of them is a black felt winter baseball cap with earflaps like Elmer Fudd used to wear but not plaid. Elmer’s was plaid and he would wear it when he went wabbit hunting. “Shh. Be vewy, vewy quiet. I’m hunting wabbits.”
I wore my black Elmer Fudd hat for years until I caught a serious look at myself in the mirror and was just utterly chagrined at the sight. It was hideous but it felt cozy, that hat, sweet like Elmer because even though he was armed he never really hurt anybody. But the mirror caused a reckoning that resulted in my EF hat being shifted to the bottommost layer of hats no fool would wear.
For weeks in Milwaukee, we have had snow alternating with a polar vortex and freezing rain. I have shoveled a lot, I actually like shoveling snow but as I read about younger people keeling over from shoveling I feel like I should scale back. The other day, my doctor asked me if I’d had any chest pains when I shoveled and I told her, no, I try to stop just before the chest pains start. It’s a joke, don’t come running.
A few days ago I was driving by our house when I saw a man with a shovel over his shoulder. I convinced him to shovel our driveway for a ridiculous amount of money. He shoveled in long strips, stopping every few minutes to lean with both hands on his shovel. Maybe his doctor told him to do that. But he was done in a quarter of the time it would have taken me and he lived through it. After I paid him and I was walking down the street to our truck, he yelled at me. “Leon,” he said, “My name is Leon.”
I love Leon. I prayed for him to come back today and he did, this time charging me somewhat less because the snow wasn’t as heavy or deep as before. I paid him happily and briefly considered offering him room and board if he would just stay through winter and shovel. Last night, I watched two trucks pull up to my neighbor’s across the street. One truck plowed their driveway and four other men snow-blowed their sidewalks. I just prayed for Leon.
Unbelievably, we are going to Alaska next week. But somehow the snow there seems exotic and thrilling, not endless and overwhelming like here. To prepare, we have watched several episodes of Ice Road Truckers which is weirdly gripping and somewhat skill-building. In the last episode, two semi-trucks carrying enormous loads drove across a frozen lake with the second semi-truck driver radioing the first that she saw new cracks in the ice developing as he drove his rig to the shore. She was still behind him when she said this.
I’m not a sissy, not about snow anyway, so I am prepared for Alaska although I do sort of wish that Leon was coming along. Just in case.