I guess it’s a measure of how brutal the winter was that the arrival of spring yesterday passed unnoticed by me. Current temperature: 37 degrees. Signs of spring so far: Pretty much zero, unless you count potholes, which are epic this year. I heard the beeping of the cold-patch truck coming down my street today, which will have to do in place of birdsong.
But I know it’s only a matter of time, and before winter slips entirely away, I’d like to give a shout-out to a few of the items that made it bearable this year. Cue the montage!
In a cold, wet climate, it’s more important to keep your feet warm than your head. These were my birthday present last fall. If I’d been buying them for myself, I’d have skipped on the shearling lining and gone for Thinsulate, but Alan is a sweetheart and splurged. L.L. Bean. I stepped into a few drifts that came over the top, but the shearling never really allowed the loose snow to penetrate to my feet. So kudos to these workhorses. A key supporting role was played by…
These seemed a little bit of overkill when I got them. They were another present from Alan. I’d asked for Yaktrax, but Alan decided these were sturdier. They are, and though they hurt my knees when I wore them on dry pavement, they were essential on snow and ice. We had LOTS of ice this year, at least three storms that started as rain and turned to snow, followed by a deep cold snap. All that slush froze solid into icy lumpy fuck, and walking was absolutely treacherous. But not with these cleats! Of course no footwear ensemble is complete without…
Rag wool for the Bean boots, which run a little large, and merino for when you don’t want to feel like you’re wearing carpet on your feet. These are Smartwool knockoffs from Costco, but I have lots of the original. I’m wearing a pair right now, in fact. Moving up from the feet, we have…
Capilene from Patagonia, and I also had some silky polyester ones from Land’s End. I went days without taking them off for anything other than a shower. When I had to go outside, I threw on…
More L.L. Bean classics. They are frumpy as hell, adding 10 pounds at least. The rise is so high, and the zipper is so long, that I felt like someone’s grandpa every time I put them on. But low-rise jeans that hug your butt don’t come with fleece lining. I may have looked unfashionable, but goddamn I was warm. Which brings us to the star of the show…
Ladies and gentlemen, the parka of tribulation:
Sturdy enough to stand up on its own, surprisingly heavy, the North Face McMurdo parka came to me a decade ago, via eBay. That was the year I was in Ann Arbor, and I was seeking to duplicate my college experience, when my very first down parka protected me through the fearsome back-to-back winters of the late ’70s. I think I paid about $100 for it new with tags, two-thirds below its retail price, probably because it didn’t include the fetching coyote ruff for the hood. It’s so warm it becomes uncomfortable when the temperature is much above 20, but as I’ve been whining for months, we didn’t have too many of those days. In most winters, this is a specialty item worn for only a few days. This year, it was my main coat. I just put it back in the front-hall closet, where it lives in the off-season. I think of it as you might a spouse you’re divorcing, but don’t actually despise. You respect and admire the work it does, but if it’s all the same, you’d rather not see it for a while. A long while.
Supporting roles were played by hats, several pairs of gloves, scarves and sweaters, but you don’t have to see everything in the closet today. Yesterday I wore a lightweight trench and was perfectly comfortable. Of course it rained.
Bloggage for today:
I had fun reporting this graffiti story for Bridge.
I’m only about halfway through this Grantland story on the world’s greatest juggler, but I’m enjoying it very much. No transsexuals in this one (so far), but a great lead:
I feel like I should let you know what you’re in for. This is a long story about a juggler. It gets into some areas that matter in all sports, such as performance and audience and ambition, but there’s absolutely a lot of juggling in the next 6,700 words. I assume you may bail at this point, which is fine; I almost bailed a few times in the writing. The usual strategies of sportswriting depend on the writer and reader sharing a set of passions and references that make it easy to speed along on rivers of stats and myth, but you almost certainly don’t know as much about juggling as you do about football or baseball. We’re probably staring at a frozen lake here.
A few juggling videos are embedded below. I hope they help. We may fall through the ice anyway.
And finally, one for March Madness: What white people don’t see, watching basketball.
A great weekend to all. It’s supposed to be sunny and over 40. Spring!