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Old coat

Want to know something that’s both happy-making and kind of a bummer at the same time? The length of visible daylight today, Jan. 29, is 40 minutes longer than it was at the solstice on Dec. 21. So spring is coming — here is the bummer part — at the rate of one minute and 47 seconds per day. Of course, as we get to the “flatter” part of the earth’s elliptical orbit, this will speed up to a blazing several minutes a day, but that won’t be until March. After all, the earth has to travel 146 MILLION miles to get from the solstice to spring, and that’s an extremely long way. (And yes, it means that all of us passengers on the planet log 584 million miles every year. Amazing.)

Here at this part of the orbit, for us anyway, it’s cold, dark and stubbornly refuses to snow. The Wowpup’s feet are sore from the icy walks, and I have not been completely warm since October (unless you count the maddeningly persistent hot flashes that happen at 2 o’clock in the morning. which we aren’t.)

Enter the coat.

It’s not stylish at all. It’s two shades of doesn’t-match-anything-blue, and it has an utterly useless hood that’s meant to be wadded up inside the collar, a design idea that someone should have nixed before it could ever be sewn into reality. That hood is too lightweight to do anything except annoy my head, but when it’s tucked away, it makes the collar so heavy that it pulls the whole garment backward. This, in turn, brings the freezing zipper pull into contact with my chapped chin, resulting in a certain amount of discomfort and bad language.

Furthermore, the coat is so big, its sleeves dangle well below my fingertips; in terms of keeping those fingers warm, this is a good thing, but in fashion terms, it makes me look like some kind of simian amputee. The body of the coat isn’t much better, since it hits somewhere around the middle of my leg, and looks, from a distance, like a handless person wearing a pup tent. In fact, it very much resembles a tarp with a hood. It’s a design fail.


The thing about this coat, this particular coat, is that it belonged to my dad. It’s the only item of his clothing that I have, unless you count the bag of ties that I fully intend to turn into handbags someday. It’s so huge on me because my father was a tall man, and he bought coats to fit himself, obviously, and not his kids. (This did not stop me, in college, from stealing every cardigan he owned. I had to mail them back.)

In the cold, dark, lonely bit of walking the dog in the winter, I wear my dad’s coat over my other coat. I know it’s stupid in a way, but that coat feels like a suit of armor. When I’m wearing it, I’m wrapped inside something that he wore, too, and it keeps me warm the way it kept him warm. That coat is like a hug from a long time ago, a long way away.

I am not a winter person, even though I love walks in the snow and snuggling under blankets. I long for balmy air and early-morning sunlight, and they will get here eventually, arriving at a rate of 1.6 million miles per day. Until then, something has to keep me going, and at the moment, it’s Dad’s coat. I don’t have any spectacularly helpful advice for you, but my strong suggestion is to find your own thing that makes you feel happy and hugged and hold on to that until the crocuses bloom.



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