I guess I jumped the gun with my feels-like-spring post on Tuesday, judging by yesterday’s weather. Of course spring snowstorms are nothing new, there was a big blizzard on April 1st in 1997, the April Fool’s blizzard. There was also a pretty good late March storm in 2002, a special present for me, as it was the last night I was working the night shift when I was a night porter. I had to shovel snow by myself.
I seem to remember an Easter snowstorm when I was a kid, I think in 1967 or ’68, but I can’t find a record of it.
Let’s not forget T.S. Eliot’s admonishment that “April is the cruelest month.” We’ll see about this April.
When I heard about the approaching storm on Wednesday I thought, well, at least I get to wear my warm leather “pilot hat” from Fur Hat World in Canada. I got it in the beginning of the month, and I’ve only worn it once since I got it. The day I wore it a friend dubbed it my “Snoopy” hat, and I guess that’s the way I’m always going to think about it from now on.
When I was in the army we were issued “Hat, cold weather,” that looked like this:
And yes, the Drill Sergeants used to refer to them as “Snoopy” hats.
Back then, in basic training, which I took in the winter of 1979, we were given haircuts at the reception center in South Carolina, then another “Infantry” haircut two days later in Ft. Benning Ga., and when we were informed we were getting another haircut not two weeks into our 90-day residence at Ft. Benning I’d had enough. We were required to pay for our haircuts, (deducted from our paychecks) and I decided to take matters into my own hands.
I borrowed an electric razor from another trainee and with that and my Bic razor I gave myself a Mohawk haircut in the bathroom. It wasn’t much of a Mohawk, as I had about a quarter inch of hair. But it was enough of one to incense my drill Sergeant who screamed “What is that shit on the top of your head?” when he saw it. He instructed me to go upstairs and “get rid of it.” As if the humiliation of shaving off the mustache I’d had since birth wasn’t enough, now I had to shave my head.
Two days later I found myself on a range shooting my M-16 rifle for the first time. Coincidentally, and I love telling people this, my first M-16 was made by Mattel under license from Colt Firearms during the Vietnam War. That’s right, the war was fought with stuff made by a toy company. And they wondered why the M-16 jammed so much.
It was early January and it was 22° in Georgia. I though the south was warm, but 22° is cold. I had my Snoopy hat on underneath my helmet.
“What is that shit on the top of your head?” Oh, no, not again. Different Drill Sergeant, same question.
“My cold weather hat, Drill Sergeant.”
“Well get rid of it. It’s not part of the uniform of the day.” You were supposed to wear only what was on the “uniform of the day” list.
If you’ve never worn a helmet, the way it works is that there is a leather band that fits around your head attached to web straps that support the helmet liner underneath the steel helmet. So only an inch of leather touches your head, and the rest of your scalp is exposed to the air.
Not only was it cold that day on the range, but there was a stiff wind blowing down from the North pole. The wind went up into the airspace in my helmet and totally froze the top of my head. I couldn’t wear my snoopy hat and I wished I had at least that quarter inch of hair I’d had to shave off.
Of course, last night wasn’t too cold, but it was cold enough for my new hat. This hat is leather and “Sherpa” lined, Sherpa is cloth, not fur, so I wonder how Fur Hat World gets away with selling it. Sort of like fish fur in Russia.
That’s what I wanted, though, I already have an aviator-style fur hat, my Coyote lined Crown Hat company hat I got on sale at Sak’s 5th Avenue some 10 years ago. That hat is so warm It had to be under 20° to wear it. And I can’t hear anything if I put the flaps down. So I needed a lighter, but still warm and aviator-stylish hat, and this one fit the bill.
Of course this hat didn’t do much to keep the snow out of my face, and for some reason the snow is always blowing in my face no matter what direction I walk in. It’s almost like the wind knows which way I’m going to walk and adjusts itself accordingly. But the choice was stylish aviator hat or practical baseball hat and hood, and style won out over practicality. One can’t look cool and stay dry at the same time.
The city looked pretty once again, a blanket of white always looks good on top of the grey and black of hard concrete and asphalt. Makes the ground a little softer, too.
It was soft only for a couple of hours yesterday, though, and then it turned into either hard-packed ice, or wet slush depending on where you were walking. Some people put out salt, others did not, and the temperature on sidewalks varies depending on what’s underneath.
Well, it looks like the sun is coming out, and it’s still cold enough to wear my Snoopy hat today. I wonder if I should break out the YAKTRACS? I sure could have used them on some of the streets I was walking on last night. But I can’t think of everything, can I?