“Dress in layers,” said the instructor in the front of the room. Denver Free University. The class was Beginning Cross Country Skiing. “When you cross country ski, you can get very warm and then when you stop you can get very cold. You need to be able to put things on and take things off.”
At that moment — and only for that moment — I imagined cross-country skiing would be a constant battle for the the happy place between buckets of sweat and hypothermia.
But the layers thing changed fashion as I knew it.
Gone were the days of a heavy coat, weighing me down as I trudged through the drifts on my way to third grade. The third grade coat was made of naugahyde and it was uglier than sin but it had the GREAT advantage of being able to function, also, as a sled. During the snowstorm days all the kids with big naugahyde coats could flop down on their backs and slide down the big hill to the swing-set.
For those who might not be familiar with the hyde of the Nauga, my coat was made of the same material as this chair and it was the same color:
I still have the last “big coat” of my life — it’s a cashmere trench-coat. I bought it on layaway in the 70s when I was a penurious paralegal struggling to keep the electricity on in my efficiency apartment. I loved that coat and I might maybe be buried in it because I cannot give it away. It represented — to me at the time — my glamorous future life as a free-lance writer.
I toted that coat to California where I protected it from moths and back to my Colorado garage.
Now that I’m back in freezing Colorado (not now but in a few months) I don’t even wear a big coat. Sure, I have my down parka. De rigueur for anyone living here, I guess. And you can still throw it on over a t-shirt and go to the store. But layers are the thing and I wonder at this very moment if I’m wearing summer clothes or if I jut took off some layers back in May.
Well, there are the flip-flops.
P.S. The coat in the photo isn’t my coat — but mine looks JUST like it. 🙂