Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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October 22, 2012

Cathie Shaffer: My coat of many seasons: 10/23/12

GREENUP — I ‘spose I ought to think about buying a new winter coat.

I’m perfectly happy running around in a hoodie or sweater, but, unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate. I know that in a month or two,  I’ll need something thicker to keep me warm.

I have a winter jacket. I remember buying it several years ago on the way to visit my late mother in northwestern Ohio. In a call to tell her I was on the way, she reminded me that I needed a sturdy coat because it was in the high 40s that day and expected to be below freezing that night. When she added “leading into a cold snap,” I figured it was coat time.

I’d left Kentucky wearing my heavier hoodie; the temperature was probably in the mid-50s when I walked out of my house that morning. I hadn’t brought gloves or a cap, either; I’ve been down here long enough to forget what early winter feels like up home.

My stop came at a mega-giant store south of Columbus. My legs needed stretching and my mother’s warning about a coat was echoing in my head.

In a stroke of perfect timing, jackets were on sale. I tried on several before I started looking at prices. The one I really liked was reasonably priced if I was going to wear it every day, but a little high to hang in my closet most of the time.

The jacket I chose had a hood, zipped tightly shut and was lined with fake fleece. It was large enough to allow for move

ment but snug enough not to let the cold wind surge in.

The color is eminently practical: gray. Road dirt from brushing up against the car doesn’t show and whatever material the jacket is made from repels the occasional spill of coffee on its surface, which is decorated with russet fall leaves.

I’ve certainly gotten my money’s worth from the jacket. I ran it through the washer to prepare for the coming onset of cool weather and realized that, like me, it’s showing its age a little.

The fleecy part of the upturned sleeves isn’t nearly as white as when it was first new and those leaves droop now from fabric breakdown caused by normal wear and tear.

I lost the cord to the hood long ago and there’s a hole in one of the pockets. I probably wouldn’t notice except that if you drop in change, there’s a good chance it’s going to keep going to the surface below.

The jacket’s like an old friend now, sharing so many experiences with me from snow shoveling to trips to visit family. Like a security blanket, that jacket lends comfort when I need it.

I do not, however, want to become that family member everyone talks about. You know what I mean. When Aunt Agatha comes over for a holiday dinner, the nieces whisper to each other, “Why don’t we go together and get her a nice coat for Christmas?”

I realize I can mend the pocket and there are probably fancy new products out there to thoroughly clean it and revitalize the fabric. But doing so is like reheeling those favorite shoes, simply prolonging the inevitable.

Old Faithful won’t be relegated to the recycle bin to be turned into fun hats and homemade gloves. That jacket will remain on a hook by the door and the new one saved for fancy times.

Unless, that is, the kids who’ve been hounding me to buy a new coat for years get to it first.

CATHIE SHAFFER can be reached at cathie.shaffer@zoominternet.net

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