by Shelley Taylor
Did you ever love a piece of clothing so much that you wanted to pay it tribute by writing a story about it? Its story… its life? I have two pieces of clothing that I have a true love affair with. An emotional attachment with. Weird perhaps, but true. I have come believe that most things in my life, at this point in time, are all precious to me. Due to many circumstances I’ve been forced by, then eventually chosen, I have downsized, donated and distributed as many things as I’ve been able to let go, clothing being no exception.
The ‘things’ that I now have in my possession are fewer, and most of them are precious. They’ve been chosen, evaluated, ‘judged’ by me, for their value, and ultimately awarded the ‘keep’ stamp, and have become a permanent treasure in the curated collection of my life.
My Bluenose II Hoodie is one of those two pieces of clothing. It was originally purchased for my then 13 yr old daughter, at the Bluenose shop in Lunenburg Nova Scotia, during our visit there the summer of 1997. My husband had died the previous year (after a long battle with cancer), and the Maritime tour was supposed to be a healing journey for the two of us, to try to reconnect. The ‘tour’ was a total disaster, as I travelled with a belligerent teenager who sulked throughout most of it, complaining “there’s too much green here” (we’ve both laughed often since, no worries!).
One of the ‘few’ things that appealed to her, was the Bluenose II hoodie that I offered to buy for her (I already had mine at the sales counter). She wore it often, and it obviously was well loved and very tattered when she finally decided to let it go, 20+ years later. But to where? Bin it? It wasn’t in good enough shape to donate. What to do? Only because she didn’t know and therefore asked, did I have the opportunity to grab it and give it some of my own love!
My own original hoodie was tattered, stained and loved, just as much as my daughter’s was. And was in the same sort of condition when I lost it. I don’t know where, and it certainly wasn’t by choice. It could have been left in a laundry pile, abandoned and torn up and used as shop cloths. But I don’t have it. And by now, I’ve gone through all of my belongings at least once, and it’s something that would have been pulled out and worn and loved all through these past few years. So, adopting my daughter’s replica hoodie was like receiving a second chance.
She (The Hoodie) was one of the first items I set aside to pack, when planning my dream holiday – a hoped for healing journey, back to the Maritimes. And she was one of the first items put into use, upon my arrival on PEI. Determined to soak up as much PEI weather as possible, I layered myself with shirts and shawls, and The Hoodie was an integral part of that costume.
She stayed in use all through the holiday - every day, and sometimes ALL day. Walks along the beach and sitting ON the beach were her highlight moments. She was thick and fleecy enough to provide a good wind break…especially against the north east winds. Another skill she owned, was being big enough, with long arms, to provide different thicknesses as a headrest – no matter WHAT position my body was in. I could fold and refold the arms to adjust to whatever would give my head and neck some support. Important for a healing body that wanted to grab every ounce of sunshine and bask in it, face up to the sun!
Her real test, however, was the comfort and value she provided throughout the tail end of Hurricane Dorian. I was in a little ‘rustic’ cottage on PEI’s north shore, only about 150 yards from the ocean. My only protection was the larger permanent home in front of my cottage that provided some break from the wind. My little dream cottage was in the crosshairs of not only Dorian, but another storm brewing and blowing wind from another direction. We lost power early on, and lasted 8 days until we were restored.
I survived, my cat survived, the cottage survived, although it did lose the screen door – torn right off its hinges and ditched out in the yard, twisted and certainly no longer usable.
What helped, in a huge way, was that Hoodie. She was never off my body (except to change whatever was laying next to my skin, each day). She was slept in, huddled in, used as a sun screen and a wind barrier. She was a soldier put into action. And she NEVER failed.
And still doesn’t. Some of the stains from those 8 days of the hurricane, will never come out. Always well loved, she’s now experienced an amazing adventure, born some new scars and is a bit more tattered for it. But her ability to be worn in public (which I did occasionally, during the storm, in order to eat a hot meal), is no longer viable, and I long for a new, unstained version that I can wear in public, and doesn’t draw pitiful looks. The Bluenose II does deserve every bit of prominent proud display – I feel I’m dishonouring the noble ship, in some way, by wearing the tatty, stained Hoodie in public.
I had tickets to a local café music show during the power outage, and had actually messaged them, explaining I might have to appear in ‘costume’ if we didn’t have power back, before the show. I wouldn’t take the Hoodie off. Bottom line. But I didn’t want to get barred from entering! By that 8th day, I was looking very bedraggled, and The Hoodie was certainly looking war-ravaged. It provided too much warmth, to be discarded for ‘looks’. She certainly deserved all my love and respect for being a Storm Warrior and never failing me!
I’m wearing her now, as I write this tribute. The cuffs of both sleeves are worn through their folds. The inner zig-zag stitching can be seen, holding the battered seams together. Stained and faded in spots, she certain looks well-worn.
The best stain is the mustard pickles stain. Well earned, well deserved and certainly well placed (mid-chest) where the pickles were caught between my Hoodie and the cooking apron I was wearing at the time, nestled there for hours, the mustard sauce leaving a vivid stain. The apron, by the way, has the matching stain, but it’s on the BACK of the apron!!!
After the storm, when it was warm enough to peel some of the layers off, The Hoodie was reluctantly removed, in order to be washed and dried. And, true to form, stubborn, and strong – she took no less than 3 days to dry. Not enough wind (ironic, after the storm!), and then when finally brought inside, not enough heat to dry her quickly. And she dried ‘hard’. Crunchy. Not the soft velvet I’d become used to. But, she was quickly put back into service, and she’s soft and cozy once again.
She has a big hole in the back. A few holes (no burn holes!) on the front, and deserves some time off, when we return to Ontario. I haven’t decided what to do with her yet. I’m thinking a lovely pillow cover…something I can still huddle with. But she won’t be discarded. She’ll continue to be well loved and valued!
I planned for over a year for this holiday, and made many sacrifices in order to achieve it. I was blessed every moment, that the holiday was all that I ever hoped it could be, and more. The Hoodie was a huge part of this experience, and I hope this story does her justice.