I crack myself up sometimes. A few days ago I took this murky photo of myself in the mudroom mirror. (The photo is murky because the Lifeproof cover on my old phone is so scratched all photos appear as if taken underwater.) I’m not really a “selfie” person and don’t know how to take them, but DH was away and I wanted to show how cold it has been this week. Over my shirt and pants I am wearing a sweatshirt, a fleece neck warmer, quilted coveralls, a watch cap, and my hooded barn jacket.
This barn jacket is about eight years old and has seen better days.
Just last week I stopped by the school office briefly while wearing it (it was not during my teaching time and I’d dashed over between chores). The school secretary, my friend, said dryly, “Maybe time for a new coat?” I’d replied, “This jacket is just for the barn. I think I can get another winter out of it.”
Back in 2002, when I first started doing barn chores twice a day, I was absurdly proud of wearing out clothes. I had been a child of the suburbs. I outgrew clothes, I didn’t wear them out as a result of physical toil. The first pair of work boots I went through I could hardly bear to part with. They were a symbol to me of my discipline and sweat. I had to store them in the garage for six months until they lost their magic totem status and I could see them as the trash they were, and throw them away.
I think this may be a common phenomenon. At farming conferences, I have noticed that some presenters are clean and tidy, and others are in worn and even ripped clothes. It’s my observation that the latter are almost invariably people like me, former children of the suburbs who sport their fraying work clothes as badges of honor. Conversely my dear friend Allen, who grew up in the early 1940s in poverty, wore Dickies on the job but for public display put on a dress shirt with a bolero tie.
In any event, after taking the selfie I stooped and put on my work boots (they were Allen’s; I wear them and think of him and all the jobs we did together while his feet were in them; sadly, between us, we’ve nearly worn them out… one sole is rotting off). Then I zipped up my jacket, put on my mittens, and went to chores.
An hour later when I returned from chores — hurrying, as usual, to change and get to my classes on time — I could not get my barn jacket off. The zipper was stuck. I looked in the mirror — was anything caught in it? Nope. Often you can force a zipper. I yanked at my lapels with both hands. Nope. The zipper didn’t budge. Of course I had zipped it almost to my throat. I removed my glasses and every other obstruction and carefully wiggled out of the jacket, pulling it off over my head, the zipper scraping my face. Despite being harassed and late, I couldn’t help laughing a little that only a short time earlier I’d been posing before the same mirror. That’ll teach me to try to take a selfie!
After work I examined the zipper more closely. I tried for ten minutes to free it. No luck.
OK, I give up. Time for a new barn jacket.