Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Long-Ago Love Affair

When I was in grade school, I had a love affair with the color seafoam green. I adored it. I even had a set of pop beads that were all seafoam green. I guess you could say I was a little obsessed. I would sit in my room with a box of crayons, trying to recreate the perfect shade by lightly layering green, light blue, and a touch of gray. It never worked perfectly, but I never stopped trying. When Crayola came out with their pastel markers, it was a match made in heaven...until the seafoam green color wore out.

I remember this because it coincided with the first knitted item I ever loved. I was 8 years old and my family lived in Duluth, MN. There were 7 kids in my family by then and it was the first year of my life that I got to pick out a brand new winter jacket. Of course, I got a seafoam green one.

We were at the big craft fair/fundraiser for school. Rows of tables were set up in the gym and women (they were pretty much all women) sat behind the tables and offered up their knitted/quilted/beaded/whatever items for sale. As the fair wore down and people started packing up their things, an elderly woman was trying to get rid of a box of knitted mittens. This woman knit wool mittens year-round and she had a large box FULL of some of the ugliest-colored mittens you can imagine. Seeing that my mother had a lot of kids on her hands, and that we would all need warm mittens for the winter, she let my mom have the entire box for $10.

I was less than thrilled. There I was, an 8-year-old girl with a fabulous new jacket and my mom expected me to ruin it by wearing rust-colored mittens? Or pine green with orange stripes? Or brown the color of cow pies? No way!

We got home and started going through the box. Ugly mitten after ugly mitten came out. My mother cheerfully told us that there were so many mittens in the box we would be able to switch off the wet ones for dry ones when we were playing outside. I was not appeased. But then there, in the bottom corner of the box, was a flash of white. I reached in and yanked out a pair of snowy white mittens with 3 stripes of seafoam green around the wrist band. They were beautiful! They matched! They were MINE!

But they couldn't be all mine. I had 4 other sisters who didn't want to wear ugly mittens either. From that day on, going outside became a contest to see who could get dressed the fastest and snag the pretty mittens. When we lay our sopping wet mittens on a radiator to dry, I would shove mine behind the radiator in the hopes that no one would notice them. I never touched dirty snow with those mittens on because I didn't want them to get dirty.

I have no idea what ever happened to those mittens. I know I wore them for a few years, but then I probably became too old and cool to play outside in the snow. Or else my family moved and they got lost in all the packing. Maybe they wore out. Maybe my brothers got older and wouldn't be caught dead in girly white-and-seafoam green mittens. But I will always remember them.

(Btw, the mittens in the photo are for illustrative purposes only. I pulled the photo from Google images and I think they are mighty cute. The ones we had were U-G-L-Y!)

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