Monday, April 28, 2008

Seasonal Closets

I have fond memories of the early fall and early spring days when we would switch the clothes in our closets. That ritual when I would put the summer clothes away and bring out the winter clothes, or vice versa. I loved it. I was a clothes horse even at 3 and very opinionated about what I wore. My mother says we got thrown out of the nursery school carpool because every morning just as we would enter the elevator to start the day, I would dart back into the apartment to change my outfit or shoes. That meant we were late and the other families didn't appreciate that. They didn't know a future-calling when they saw it.

In early fall sweaters and corduroys didn't remind me of cold to come, I was excited because they were fabrics and colors and styles I hadn't worn in 5 or 6 months. And bringing out the summer clothes didn't warn me of the 100+ degree heat we get in Chicago in the summer, instead all I saw were the pretty skirts. I felt the soft cotton and thought about the sandals I would buy this year. Winter boots never excited me, my parents were lucky that my form of rebellion was generally no more severe than stubbornly wearing converse high-tops on snowy winter days, although one year my mother kept trying to throw out my green ones and I kept digging them out of the trash - they were my own creation at that point, cut down to low-tops with hand painted designs on them - definitely not trash.

This weekend there was a piece in the New York Times home and garden section about the ritual of changing the seasonal clothing in the closets, but from a mother's perspective. I now live in northern California where people don't have this ritual. My friends who grew up here thought it was so strange when I told them about it. The summer can be chilly here so people don't put away their sweaters, and in January it can be warm enough for a tank top. If they have a down coat it's usually with the ski gear I guess. So even though I live here now, clearly you can't take Chicago out of the girl - I still love the ritual cleaning and putting away of sweaters - it's a sign that I've decided spring is here and it's here to stay - like when I wore shorts one early May day when I was 11, you'd think that would be totally normal - except for the blizzard outside that left more than 6 inches of snow on the ground.

What can I say, my rebellions were clothes-related, a sign of things to come and all things considered, really easy on the parents.

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