I’ve donned a lot of headgear in my lifetime—straw hats, party hats, gardening hats, snoods, sombreros, Stetsons, fedoras, ski caps, riding hats, Tyrolean hats and even the tartan plaid, folded-brim hats of the Macaulay’s ancestral clan of Scotland. But my favorite by far was my older brother’s rain hat, and I first set eyes on it when I was just four years old.
I still remember how its long, grey flaps fit snugly around my ears. Surely, capped in so protective a hat, a person would be prepared for any wonderful thing, rain or shine. I slipped on the matching rain slicker and rubber boots, then snuck outdoors to try it all on for size.
Looking out of from the kitchen window, my mother noticed me splashing around make believe puddles in the driveway, having a merry old time dancing between the nonexistent raindrops. Grabbing a camera, she came out and took a snapshot, recording a moment that remains indelible in my mind, even though the photo has long ago disappeared from the scrapbook.
There I am backlit in sunlight, dressed in a raincoat five sizes too big, grinning with all the sunny enthusiasm of any four-year-old kid geared up for a new experience, ignorant of the fact that my rubber boots were on the wrong feet.
Today, on this side of the horizon, I see that my life has been governed largely by my experiences, some intentional, others purely accidental, becoming in their stumbling sum, a woman of many hats—author, columnist, journalist, wife, sibling, aunt, friend, equestrienne, naturalist, master gardener, volunteer and ardent admirer of every cat who ever graced the earth, meeting life just as I am, which is generally as ignorant as when that photo of me was taken, still trying out something the wrong way, occasionally mentoring, always procrastinating, and, on a good day, smiling still.