Fair-skinned, I wear a wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved blouse, gloves, pants, socks, and shoes to garden.
With few exceptions, style holds no sway over my clothing and coiffure when I cultivate food and flowers. Comfort and function determine my yard work wardrobe. One never knows where poison ivy lurks.
Yet, my youngest daughter declares, “What you wear effects how you feel,” as if those colorful madras shirts she gifted me years ago guaranteed I sing My Favorite Things in 90% humidity.
True, I favored those purple and pink plaid blouses for their wrinkle-free breathability. I wore them threadbare with my Salvation Army finds. It’s always the back by the right shoulder that first gives out.
That’s what happened to my yellow and white-checkered blouse this spring, leaving one lonely shirt left that’s presently in the laundry basket.
This called for some creative thinking yesterday morning, the date for our first Seven Ponds Herb Group meeting for garden cleanup. After perusing my closet, I recalled a lilac pinstriped, long-sleeved blouse in the basement’s chifforobe.
My mother-in-law purchased this furniture for her firstborn twin sons in 1946. She offered it for our firstborn’s nursery in 1970. The heirloom remains rooted in our home, repurposed for table linens and chest of drawers for my summer wardrobe.
I unfolded the blouse, glad to resurrect the garment for the glory of gardening, plugged in my Rowenta, and sprayed the cloth with starch. Lost in thought, I touched the iron to my bare waist and promptly remembered the basement of my childhood home on Wagner Street in Warren.
About nine years old, I wanted to prove to my mother that I could iron my own clothes. With four daughters and three in school, her ironing decreased in the summer, yet she still faced piles of ironing every day including our play clothes and Dad’s barber and bowling shirts.
I figured out how to lower the ironing board and turned on Mom’s Sunbeam. Shorts and a sleeveless top couldn’t be that difficult. Mom made it look easy.
Then it happened. Right handed, the edge of the hot iron slid across my right ribcage. In the shock of pain, I jerked the iron back. Since I couldn’t hide the burn, I confessed to Mom.
With practice, I mastered Mom’s iron. In time she recommended me to a mother of two boys who paid fifty-cents an hour, my babysitting wage. Showing up on time and standing in steamed heat for two hours developed discipline and confidence in my work.
When the trend for ironing hair invaded our neighborhood in the 1960s, I stood in our basement, head resting on the ironing board, straightening my hair.
When Granny visited from Kentucky during the craze, she caught me in that position. She shook her head. “I never see’d such waste of power! What will y’all think of next?”
Dear Reader, I’m thinking of a haircut, but blowing hair dry in a salon is illegal.
And I’m wondering what our governor will think of next.
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