Winter is coming. I know this because winter comes every year, and will continue to do so, if the 3 percent of climate scientists who don’t believe in global warming are right. And even though I know that autumn is just summer’s death rattle, warning of the cold dead months to come, I am always emotionally unprepared for that very first day when the temperature drops and I can see my breath and I think oh no, my soul is escaping.
That’s what I thought as a kid. I was a dumb kid.
The winter means the sun goes down earlier at exactly “seasonal affective disorder o’clock.” It means never, ever, going outside because the howling wind is blowing upwards, downwards, and sideways all at the same time. Bones creak. Lips crack. By some point in early February, I usually find myself wondering if summer was just a distant memory.
New York City is beautiful when it’s blanketed in white snow. But then, 30 seconds later, the city streets turn into gray cigarette-butt-studded ice gravy. Sigh.
But as part of my personal wellness regime, I am trying to think positive. You, dear reader, can always count on me to find the proverbial silver lining. That is not entirely true. I’m trying though.
One thing I do like about winter is the opportunity it gives me to buy a scarf. I buy a new scarf every year because I always, always, without fail, lose the scarf I bought the year before. It’s eerie how consistent I am about this. I could be presented the finest handwoven, goat-wool scarf by the Pope and Dolly Parton during a ceremony celebrating my contributions to the world, and it would still disappear by the time May flowers bloom. I don’t know why this is so. I could be absent-minded or my apartment could be infested with scarf-eating cupboard elves.
So it’s a good thing I like buying scarves. Mostly, I like buying scarves because I really, really enjoy scarves themselves. First off, they are the most important part of one’s winter wardrobe. Yes, it’s critical to layer well. And you obviously need a big jacket. And a hat, because heat escapes from your head. But if you don’t have a scarf to wrap around yourself, then you will most definitely die. You know that scene at the end of the famous horror movie The Shining when Jack Nicholson’s character ends up outside during a snowstorm and turns into an icicle-covered corpse? That is what happens if you attempt to go outside when it’s freezing without a scarf.
My love of scarves is only partly functional. I also enjoy the aesthetic of the scarf. You know who wears scarves? Wizards. You know who else? Nineteenth-century detectives. I went to theater school for college because I’m bad at math and very, very sensitive. I bring that up because I have been known to wear scarves indoors like a fancy, pretentious playwright. Talking owls always wear scarves.
I’m about to get technical here, so don’t get frustrated if you get confused: When I speak of scarves, I’m also speaking of mufflers. A scarf is square. A muffler is rectangular. They’re both scarves to me; I just don’t want angry emails from sartorial perfectionists pointing out the many differences between scarves and mufflers. I know you’re out there.
There are four primary qualities I look for in a scarf when I do my annual scarf shopping trip. The first is “coziness.” Will the scarf keep me toasty warm when my weather app says “Hoth?” The second important scarf quality is “heft.” I want a warm scarf, but I don’t want to feel like I’m wearing a python around my neck, you know? A scarf should be warm but also light. No.3: Is the scarf snuggly? Like a bunny rabbit? And, finally, the one thing I need from a scarf, above all else, is what I like to call “wrapability.”
Can I wrap the scarf around my neck once or twice or three times? Can I wrap that scarf around my neck and my head and my body? I want an endless scarf that can transform me into a cashmere mummy. A scarf that is, also, a warm comfortable cocoon where I can dream of summer.
Spoiler alert: my new scarf for the year is called an “infinity scarf” — it’s connected at both ends. I’ve never owned one before, but I’m all about trying new things, at least in this moment. So far so good: It’s cozy, heavy (but not too heavy), snuggly, and long enough to wrap around my neck three times. I’m not particularly precious about the colors of my scarves, but this one is “ochre.” I didn’t know there was a color called “ochre.” If you’re unfamiliar with “ochre,” it’s a color similar to “hospital butterscotch pudding.” I really like pudding.
As I wrote, winter is coming. I’m pretty sure Game of Thrones references are excellent SEO, so if you found this page through a search engine, then welcome; I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself. Winter is coming and I want you to be prepared: If you already own a scarf — if you’re one of those people who manages not to lose things — then cherish it dearly for me. If you don’t own a scarf, or if you’re a flibbertigibbet like me, go buy one. It’s the one thing you need this winter… or you will FREEZE TO DEATH. (Not really, but you will be cold.)