Tragic lovers - but at least they were warm tragic lovers.

Tragic lovers – but at least they were warm tragic lovers.

There is nothing attractive about a woman who has utilized every piece of warm clothing in her closet to keep Jack Frost as far as possible from a square inch of bare flesh. Hipster jeans and loose weave sweaters that epitomized the au courant styles of autumn have now been roughly tossed aside in favor of high-waisted flannel-lined jeans and Under Armour stolen from my son. If there were such a thing as a comfortable woolen bra, I’d be the first in line.

Hairstyle is a fine concept – but one best suited to spring, summer and autumn. Winter hair is abused hair: under-washed and under-dressed and forced to spend weeks at a time tucked under a non-descript, vaguely masculine hat. When the cap is finally removed in mid-March there is much sighing and gnashing of teeth at the [yet further] loss of sun-kissed tresses, but until then, warm ears are my priority.

For the most part, I try and keep this kind of dishabille safely within the confines of my property. No one needs to see what winter can do to a woman who once prided herself on wearing lined trousers and floor-length woolen coats amongst the sweatpants and piercings of 8am undergraduates; and chickens don’t care what you look like as long as you come bearing feed and a stick strong enough to break the ice on the water trough.

However, though my hat is shabby and my unmentionables thoroughly unmentionable, when it comes to an outer layer, I’m willing to bet that no one within 25 square miles is wearing vintage blue fox as a barn coat.

It’s not something I would have chosen for myself. Upon the installation of a beloved aunt into a home for downsizing octogenarians, a box was affectionately dispatched across the country with curious contents: One Turkish condiment caddie, one Russian bearskin rug, and one blue fox fur coat, country of origin unknown, possibly brutal, definitely cold.

I tried to wear it to an autumn party, as casually as if I were wearing a ratty Boho gilet. All it took was one exclamation from a wicked friend of “Darling! WHO are you wearing?” to see it thrown back in the closet to be fought over by my heirs or enemies at some undetermined point in the future. There would it have remained, had my daughter not stolen my good L.L Bean barn coat in order to line the cat’s bed, and left me with precious little alternatives at 6:30 on a frozen morning. The fur was donned, the front door was opened; and there upon the threshold stood a genuine snow-bunny ready for morning chores.

december 2014 015As the wind whistled through the barn doors and the chickens huddled together for moral support, I had the incredulous sensation that I was actually warm – indeed, that I couldn’t feel the Hebridian wind so obviously pummeling the hell out of everything around me.

The next morning I wore it again. I had deer cages to set up on a couple willow trees and the day promised further Siberian nonsense. And again, apart from cold hands and a red nose, my core temperature remained temperate, and my mood remained stable. I was sold.

There are repercussions of course. Although my little town would seem to exist in a halcyon age of rural farms and rural people, as thoroughly disconnected from the high society of nearby D.C as chalk is from cheese, Loudoun County nonetheless sports the highest median income in the United States. Wearing a flamboyant fur coat on one’s morning walk does not exactly endear one to one’s homesteading neighbors, although it does go a great way towards inspiring the inner-Bolshevik in frozen road crews, whose egalitarian looks of disgust yesterday forced me to plaintively yell “It was a gift!” over the hum of the road grader.

Bolshevik or Bourgeoisie – fur keeps the elements at bay, and I am willing to endure much in the way of mocking to remain wrapped in its warm embrace. Thankfully, at 6:30 in the morning on this particular Animal Farm, the only one with vocal cords and a strong stick is me.