Everyone has a season they prefer. Some like the sweet freshness of spring, some the brisk chill of winter. Me? I’m a summer person and I cling to it for as long as I can.
Although summer did a respectable job of lingering well into autumn, all good things must end. The cold-weather-loving people need their time; mine’s up. With the temperature dipping into brrrr-levels, I can only layer so many summer sweaters before I can’t move my arms.
Last week I couldn’t move my arms.
I keep a large, brown fabric box under my bed. In May I tucked all my jeans and sweaters into it and took out the sundresses; last week I reversed the move.
With a less than graceful drop to the floor I began my semi-annual clothes swap. An ineffective middle-age wiggle under the bed was followed by a grope in the near dark trying to find the grabber handle on the box … but instead of the box I pulled out the first thing I touched: a white, fleece blanket with large polka dots in every color of the rainbow.
The rainbow fleece isn’t my first blankie; that was wooly-soft, pink and black plaid. It was my baby blanket but I kept it long past crib days. It was on my bed through the confusing elementary years, the awkward middle school years and I took it to college. By then it was thin and holes were forming from extra love. I didn’t use it like I had when I was younger but its presence, tucked on a shelf, still gave me comfort.
All three of my children had blankies. Bekah and Noah’s were crib quilts, Luke’s was a soft, blue gift from a friend. The kids treated theirs like I did when I was young: cuddle it to sleep at night and drag the still-slumber-warm blanket downstairs in the morning. The blankies accompanied them on any overnight stay and when they went missing … panic! Once I frantically tracked Bekah’s down when it was left in her bed after a hospital stay.
The blankets kept them warm in both airplane and car seats. They all soaked up tears and spills; were essential for dress-up as capes or gowns, and valuable for living room-fort construction.
And, like my own childhood blankie, each one smelled like home.
All three are worn thin in spots now. Luke lost the satin edge of his before his third birthday. Bekah’s quilt is almost at thin as a sheet.
My own baby blanket is now stored a plastic bin. Luke gave his up to me years ago; the other two still have them in their rooms. I’m unsure of the use but dare not remove them; that’s a choice for them to make. It’s their history; they need to be in charge of it.
When I pulled the polka dot fleece from under the bed last week I smelled it. Dust, summer and memories. I rubbed the soft side and remembered the cross-country trip I had bought it for in 2009, the times it kept me warm on a train or in a car.
When it was new I thought it would go to the pile of extra blankets that we grab for ballgames or when the power goes out.
It’s been a bed shawl when I had the flu, a bright cover for naps on dark Sundays, and gave the soft smell of mom to a sick child. Last week it warmed the brisk chill in both my feet and my heart as I gave up warm weather.
Susan Vollenweider lives in Smithville. To listen to the women’s history podcast that she co-hosts and to read more of her writing go to thehistorychicks.com or www.susanvollenweider.com.