I didn’t love hats as a little girl. Growing up in the Episcopal Church, we were expected to wear a hat each Sunday. For a young girl, already dressed in an uncomfortable dress with stiff petticoats, the last thing I wanted to deal with was a hat.
There was a woman in our church, however, who was not only a lovely person, but also wore the most beautiful clothing and had a particular flair for choosing flattering, gorgeous hats. As I grew into my teen years, I tried to emulate her. Of course, I could never begin to afford the quality wardrobe she had, but I found myself drawn to hats. Each Easter I searched through the stores for a special hat that fit into my budget, thinking of Mrs. Oppenheim as I made my decision.
Life moved on and the world moved on, and it was no longer the tradition at our church to wear hats — women even began dressing in slacks. My love for hats has never waned, though. Through the years, there was very little chance for this stay-at-home mom to buy or wear hats. However, I was very sensitive to direct sunlight, and as I worked in my garden I often wore straw hats to protect me from the sun. Unfortunately, many straw hats are heavy and a bit warm for gardening. I was so happy when I found a lightweight, very pretty straw hat that was perfect!!
I wore it in the garden, and I took it with me in the car to wear whenever I was walking in the sun. How I loved that hat. Somehow, as I shuffled my three little grandchildren around during the day, I discovered the hat crushed beyond repair on the floor of the car. I searched for a year or two for a similar hat, but nothing was as lightweight or pretty or fit as well.
Today, I walked into a store, looking for a new journal, and there on a rack sat the PERFECT straw hat. I placed it on my head and looked into the mirror, and fell in love once more. No longer will I work in the garden without a hat; no longer will I walk in the sunshine with no hat. To most people, a hat to wear in the garden is just a hat – it doesn’t matter how it looks, but, I had Mrs. Oppenheim as a role model, and my hat has to be pretty as well as functional. Hear we come, garden — me and my hat!!!