When I finished The Hat Project with The Last Hat, I was tired of hats. My Instagram feed, filled with vintage hats, left me cold. I didn't think about how much I'd love to wear a giant cartwheel hat, or drool over well-preserved forties tilt hat.
Maybe the lockdown had something to do with it. Even though our county had a lower case rate and I could once again go shopping, or eat in a restaurant (not that I did), or work out at the pool, I felt glum. I couldn't gather with friends, sing in chorus, go to church. I hadn't seen my mom or any of my siblings or their children since March. Some days felt like wading through deep water just to work, attend virtual rehearsal, write.
Then, my friend Ann gave me a couple of hats, and suddenly hats became a bright spot again. I decided, just for fun, to bid on a couple of vintage hat lots on shopgoodwill.com.
As I've mentioned before, buying hats from the online Goodwill is a risky proposition, because you can't examine the condition. But I took the plunge and bid on a couple of small (five or six hat) lots. I ended up paying the top of my range for the lot I got (I was outbid on the other).
From the listing picture, it was obvious that the Goodwill people thought this hat was the most enticing. They placed it in the center of the picture, mounted on the display head. However, I knew this hat was least interesting and the least valuable. It is the only modern hat in the lot, a Nine West wool cloche made in China.
It is also camel and brown, not colors I am drawn to, partly because with brown hair and eyes, I figure I don't need more brown.
However, it is a nice fall hat, and when my church had an outdoor, socially distanced meeting, I thought it would be perfect to wear. Our county's case rate has skyrocketed recently, and restaurants and gyms are closed to inside use again. We even have a ten pm curfew.
Last year at this time, I was celebrating pie Sunday at church and preparing to travel to my in-laws' house for Thanksgiving. This year, the church met in a family's ranch yard for a discussion about when and how we can start having services again, since we have only had one in-person service since the March shutdown. My husband and I will be staying home by ourselves this Thanksgiving, roasting chicken instead of turkey, skipping the mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.
But still, I have gratitude. My nearest and dearest are COVID free. I still have a job, food to eat, a warm house to sleep in on cold fall nights. And it was good to see my church friends again. Even though I couldn't hug anyone, and everyone was masked, we could still gather, and even take socially distanced communion with prepackaged single serving grape juice and wafers.
COVID has brought many negatives, but also many new experiences, like outdoor communion next to a field where sheep were grazing. The sun was out and the wind waved the aspen leaves in a celebratory gold flutter. And I was wearing a hat.
Ann Hillesland writes fiction and nonfiction and collects hats. In this blog she vows to wear (not just model, but wear out of the house) every one of her hats, blogging about their histories and their meanings for her.