Monday, November 17, 2008

Hudson Bay or Warm Anyway

Folded in the hall closet of my childhood was an ugly, scratchy blanket. Did I mention it was scratchy? And it smelled funky. I don’t remember that blanket ever leaving the closet. It certainly was never on my bed or draped on the back of one of our couches to snuggle into on cold winter nights.

One year for Christmas … somewhere between 1977 and 1978 – my brother obtained his first “adult job” with General Motors in Fremont, California. That first Christmas he gifted us all with waterbeds. (Who still has a waterbed these days??)

I L-O-V-E-D my waterbed. It was ALWAYS warm. It was perfect for climbing into during the winter. You never, ever, had to worry about warming up the bed with your own body heat – or how long it would take your cold feet to thaw out. My waterbed went with me to Arizona where I attended (and graduated) college and then it followed me in my post college life. I remained a snug and warm waterbed sleeper until 1998.

When I moved back to California, the waterbed had been abandoned for about six months and I’d been sleeping on a box spring set. When I changed beds I hadn’t even given winter a single consideration. Wow … did you know the San Joaquin Valley gets … COLD?? Maybe not “Four feet of snow on the ground” cold, but STILL! So I asked for an electric blanket because my polyfill-comforter and thermal blanket weren’t doing the job. Then I asked for a down comforter.

I thought I was ok as I settled into my new environment. I re-learned why people wear slippers (I had hardwood floors throughout the house and tiled bathroom floors). I started wearing a bathrobe again – because I refuse to set my heater above sixty-eight degrees when I’m home – and at night I turned it down to forty-five degrees. I coped with the cold.

Then I came out here. Suddenly I was living in a place that had ICE STORMS! And SNOW! Did you know that the snow in Tahoe has NO RELATIONSHIP to the snow on the East Coast? Seriously. Snow out west is “dry” … and “crisp” … and you can navigate it, once it stops falling.

Here – we don’t really have snow. We have an ice-maker that needs defrosting. Oh sure … there is a powder, white and flaky in form that falls from the sky – but just like old freezers, before there was “auto-defrosting” the snow form, when it touches the ground, it forms a furry layer of … ice. And then the fur becomes sheets. And the sheets become heavy. And things, like trees and tree limbs, go crash. And vehicles that usually are dependable and follow directions go sliding off on their own secret missions of death and destruction. EVEN IF YOU HAVE FOUR WHEEL DRIVE. Also? In case you haven’t paid attention? Ice is cold. (Yes, just call me Ms. Science).

I had my electric blanket when I moved here … but it bothered me. It doesn’t make my bed toasty warm before I crawl in … not to mention that half of it doesn’t seem to work anymore. Add to that the fact I’m just a little bit leery of electricity in my bed (although in a quick search, I could not find one reliable scientific study to back this concern up), and it’s easy to see I needed a new solution.

For some reason – that ugly, scratchy wool blanket from my childhood popped into my head. I sent an email home. In it – I said that along with inheriting the cast iron waffle iron (so totally mine) – I wanted the “Hudson Bay Blanket”.

Talla Paula could not believe I was asking after the blanket that had been unused since … their wedding when it arrived at the Mitter household. Much to my surprise, she’d given it to some friends – for their cabin in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I’m not sure how it happened … but within a month or two, it arrived in North Carolina. It is also unfortunately NOT a real Hudson Bay Blanket. But it does have the iconoclast green/red/yellow/blue bands on a creamy wool background.

Why am I telling you this story?

Last night it got really cold (for here). And I happily dragged the J.C. Penny “Golden Dawn” (aka the FAKE Hudson Bay Blanket) out and onto my bed.

I love this blanket. I had no idea how effective wool can be until it made the move to North Carolina. Within moments of crawling under it (well, there are sheets and another cotton blanket between me and its scratchy self), I am toasty warm. It radiates warmth – so I can stretch out a leg or arm … and not be attacked by frost bite. It’s heavy … and reminds me of being tucked in as a kid. And it stays in place on the bed. No slipping or sliding or puddling up on the other side of the bed.

So tonight as we face a possible light dusting of snow, “Variably cloudy, windy and colder with the chance of snow flurries in the morning”, I’m going to crawl under my blanket and stay toasty warm and recall the hall closet where this blanket resided for years and years until rescued by a western girl moving south.

All hail the glory of the wool blanket.


Anonymous said...

Reading your story makes me regret the fact that I did not buy a few of those big snuggly blankets on sale at Kohls yesterday!! Ugh!! Hopefully I'll be obtaining a King quilt from Target soon for my bed. I love Target's quilts. They are SUPER CUTE and oh so warm and cozy!!

Another idea for keeping warm this winter season: A mug of warm cocoa with a bit of butterscotch schnapps. Ooooooh it is THE BEST!!!


Anonymous said...

I'll have to print this Blog for Jean J.- she will be glad we did the "Indian-giver" thing! You know why we never used it - Mr. OBH says he's allergic to wool ?? It scratches, at best ! And it's heavy to sleep under.

However, I'm delighted to picture you under a warm wool blanket - that's 52 yrs. old !!! Any moth holes in it, yet ???

I thought you had a down comforter ??? tp

The Purple Panda said...

Great post!!

My mom has one of those scratchy blankets in a closet in Sag Harbor (the town, not the brand), and I make her take it out every time I come to visit (only two years out of the northeast, and I have become a baby when it comes to the cold). There's something to be said for the comfort of the textile, but there's even more to be said for the psychic comfort of memories, of loving mothers, of places of refuge.

Word verification: meste = a thick sauce made from chocolate, caramel, molassas, and marshmallows, to be poured on *everything*...