Letter from New England

February 14, 2015

Milton, Massachusetts feels like another planet. (For those of you not in New England and aren’t interested in watching the weather channel to hear about the weather in New England, we’ve had some snow.)

The ground is elevated about two feet, it is glows ivory under the moon.

Katy and I went to Andrews Park last night. Instead of swinging on swings or throwing a frisbee, my girl scrambled up the side of a glacier. For the first time in her life, she cried out “I’m king of the glacier.” I didn’t follow her up to the peak, I don’t want to be king of a glacier. It’s never going to make my bucket list.

The sidewalks are lined by white walls about five feet tall. People are more prone to lean on their horns in traffic and more likely to make conversation while waiting in line for coffee. Of course, all anyone talks about is the weather, or shoveling because of the weather, or where they are going to escape the weather. But there is a sense of – we’re all in the same frosty boat, let’s share a moment and make it suck a little less.

We aren’t traveling this February vacation, so it helps a little, with the overall frustration, the shovel/bad hair day burnout, and the claustrophobia, to try to see my hometown through a strangers eyes.

It is a beautiful, fierce, quiet place at night. People stay home, even the teenagers. The only noise comes when a car gets stuck and the peace is shattered by gears grinding and wheels spinning. Or when the plows go through and all the dogs bark because they are convinced it’s the end of the world. It’s the end of the world about three times a night.

During the day, all the white blinds people. I walk the dogs, with my hand shielding my eyes, like a farmer surveying a field. I’m looking for spots with the least slush, and a path wide enough to accommodate me and two dogs. Both of the dogs require large amounts of personal space. I try to do my best for all of the people and animals I love right now. We all need to be extra kind to each other while we live in this strange, cold world.

Of course, when there is finally a few days without snow, it will look a little less ethereal and exotic and a little more this is what comes out of the car exhaust and the Christmas puppy.

But I don’t think that’s going to happen for a while.

I have never been a woman that accessorized. I lose earrings. Bracelets get caught in my steering wheel. And every time I change my bag, I lose my license. Or a credit card. Or my favorite lipstick.

Six months ago, something happened. I “stole” a scarf from my 11 year old daughter. The scarf had been hanging around a teddy bears neck since her 8th birthday party so don’t judge me too harshly. I liked wearing it. It was like Jacob’s coat of many colors except it was a scarf. And it went with everything. It had many colors. I felt like a grown up. I felt like I could guest host a talk show. I felt “put together.”

Next, a friend passed on a scarf, or shawl, or pashmina, a large piece of cloth intended for draping around the upper half of the body. I liked wearing that too, though I still haven’t quite figured out what to do with it. Most of the time, I put it over my head if it’s raining. Once I get inside, I fold it into a triangle and pretend I’m a woman in need of a rocking chair. Which often I am.

For Christmas, I got two infinity scarves. Are you familiar with this latest rage sweeping the nation? (I think it’s been a few years, but I don’t get to the hair salon very often. The last Vogue I read was from 2012. I think they might have used the term revolutionary. Or maybe they were talking about a new kind of bang. As in short cropped hair on the forehead. There are a lot of revolutions in the world of accessories and hair. Not just the kind that grows on your head but that’s a whole ‘nother story. I need to go to the salon more.)

They are both blue, my new Christmas infinity scarves. One is turquoise blue, the other is a royal blue. They both go with almost everything I own, especially when framed by my very favorite jean jacket. Which is denim blue. (Duh, you are thinking. No, I’m telling you. Denim is not necessarily the color of denim any more. It was hard to find a denim colored denim jacket.)

I like them. I, who have never worn any accessories, except for brief binges on earrings, an intense love affair with a wrist cuff, and a series of flirtations in my late 30’s with a series of hair ornaments, have embraced the scarf. For the time being. The patchwork scarf I stole from my daughter. The burnt orange hand me down from my dear friend that I have yet to define. And the two Christmas gifts in the most beautiful shades of blue. Infinity scarfs.

The givers knew me well. The scarves are circular, so there is no draping or tying or folding to be done. It is not likely they will slip into my coffee or dangle in my soup.

And I need to eat more soup. I’ve seen the commercials. Women that eat lots of soup look like they are about 34, have perfectly groomed eyebrows and can shop for swim suits on line because everything looks good on them.

Christmas is over. It’s time to put away cup cakes and frivolous attempts at holding onto pairs of earrings, and to embrace the simple truth that I am a woman that needs simplicity in all things.

And two infinity scarfs in two shades of blue seems to be a really nice way to start.

I will survive this winter in New England, in shades of blue and green and gold. It’s nice to know that the people I love knew I needed a little help to stay warm this year.