The weather has been quite wintry lately. The temperatures have been in the double digits below zero for at least a couple weeks now. For northern Manitoba, however, that's not surprising. Now that we're stepping into December, it will simply continue to be cold and stay cold. And so I once again to reacquaint myself with an old friend--my parka.
My parka is nothing fancy. It's not one of those grand Canada Goose jackets. It's just a serviceable number that I picked up at an Eddie Bauer store in Saskatoon one February (thus getting it at a sale price). It's black and it still looks new-ish, though it's seen me through roughly seven winters now. And though the zippers are starting to go (they're becoming rather temperamental about zipping and unzipping), I think it will see me through another winter.
But my parka is more than just a coat: from November til April, it becomes my home base. Like Tom Baker's coat in the Dr. Who series from the 1970s, my parka is full of pockets with a seemingly unending amount of storage space. And I put all sorts of good, useful things in those pockets: naturally my wallet and keys, but also a pen or two, a notebook, matches, a handkerchief or two, a Swiss army knife, a small flashlight, binoculars - maybe even a bird guidebook - and a slender thermos-bottle. When I'm travelling my passport slides into a pocket effortlessly, as does a spare set of glasses or sunglasses. I can tuck a sandwich or granola bar easily away into one of my pockets. And when I'm not wearing my toque or gloves, they can be shoved down into the pockets as well. My world seems to revolve around my parka and the things I put into it.
I take my parka all over the place, too. All across northern Manitoba and down to Winnipeg. I bring it with me when I'm snow-shoeing or taking a quick run to pick up some groceries at the Northern Store. It's been with me in Saskatchewan. It's been with me in Labrador. It's been with me in Ontario. I wear it at Christmas. I wear it at New Year's. I wear it (often) at Easter, too. It has been a kind of faithful and constant companion--like a good old-fashioned side-kick, like a good old-fashioned dog.