putting on my thinking cap
In the corner of my kitchen stands the hatrack that was in the entry of our farmhome when I was growing up. My folks laughed when I brought it here to Denver, not at all certain why I’d want a clearly homemade artifact with cracked paint and a layer of “patina” that no amount of OrangeGlo will remove. But I love it, because it holds my thinking caps.
I’m not quite sure whether I first adopted the “thinking cap” concept from Mrs. Alice McMurry, the revered Promise City kindergarten teacher who taught us to read, or from the early Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoon series. (Was it Sherman and Mr. Peabody who used the phrase?) But it’s an outward symbol of an inward process–gearing up to cogitate.
The two hats now adding character to my home came from two characters who played major roles in my life–my dad Carl and my Uncle Emmons Atwell.
Dad’s hat is the one he wore in the fields, so it carries the wisdom and happiness–and sweat–of a farmer who treasured farming, worked dawn to dark and never forgot that keeping the soil nourished would nurture us all. His decisions were logical, ethical and strategic.
Uncle Emmons’ is a Western dress hat, just what you’d expect for a man who ran and rode in rodeos and loved horses as much as my dad loved the land. Look closely, and you can see a photo of him in his so-handsome 30s tucked inside the brim. Where my dad never drank (until I led him astray with a few glasses of wine in his later years!), Uncle Emmons clearly enjoyed a glass of whiskey and Coca-Cola. He appreciated a good laugh and oh, how he adored his little sister, my mom Arlene.
But back to the hatrack. These days, when I have a difficult decision to make, I take both hats off and hold them. Sometimes, I even wear them for a few minutes. Because, way I figure, if I can soak in some of the “thinking cap” energy of a straight-row farmer and a clever horse-trader, I’ve got that left/right brain thing covered and a bit of whimsy left over.
And should my answer be that the near-future looks stormy, no matter what I decide, I put them both back and grab item #3: the 1940s black bumbershoot that belonged to my dad’s sister Aunt Carrie. It was she who went to work as a telegraph operator in her very early adulthood to keep the Thompson kids fed during the Depression. Let a smile be your umbrella.
So this morning’s question: What in your home brings memories of a special character in your life, every time you see it?