It’s cold in Michigan these days, very cold and often dark. We’ve already hit some kind of record (snow? cold? does it matter when the prize isn’t worth winning?) and the rest of the week has the high temps somewhere in the single digits.
I just finished hiking 30+ miles in the bitter cold over the past few days, so maybe my body is more resilient, or maybe I’m just resigned…who knows.
What I do know is, I pulled my warmest clothes from the closet today. Including this vest, a fur from my visit to Poland two autumns ago.
My mom has a coat from Poland, a beautiful coat, fur-lined and hand-embroidered with colors up and down its front. When I went to Poland last, she insisted, “Buy yourself a new coat!” for the vintage one was dry-rotting and falling apart, despite worthy efforts to keep it patched.
I found a beautiful coat in Krakow square–long and hooded, with pockets and covered in delicate, pink, hand-embroidered flowers. The coat, I decided, would come to Michigan and keep me warm. But then I found the vest.
The vest is cut without seam or finish on the end, so the fur flops over the sides, black, soft, warming. The leather has been dyed a deep, dark green. I tried it on. The colors of Poland, due to generations of artists and genetics, match my features like they were made to name me the Princess of some city street.
I thought it was marvelous.
But, I already had the coat…so much to purchase already.
Suddenly, a German woman and her husband stopped by. She saw me in the vest, and she wanted it. The Polish salesman, a kind-hearted giant-of-a-man who spoke no English, kindly but pointedly told her I needed to make a decision first.
I tried on a few other vests, as did she…but this one was the best, and we both knew it.
She wanted it. She wanted it really badly. It has a belt with little fur pom-poms on the end. It smells of leather and secrets and maybe adventures starting at train stations, maybe. It looks like it was made for maybe medieval royalty or a starlet from the Silver Screen.
I thought about the cold of Michigan and how much I love fur…and I took it home with me, much to the chagrin of an otherwise very nice lady from Germany.
Such is the story of the cold of Michigan, the warmth of a fur vest, and the history of the square in Krakow, two autumns ago.