Adding a layer or three

02:33, Jul 03 2014
Pat Veltkamp Smith
Columnist Pat Veltkamp Smith was Southland Times women's editor until 1997 and is a former president of the Southland Justices of the Peace Association.

Some fashion pundit says layering is on the way out.

But since the same authority decreed men may now wear ankle socks with sandals I don't think we will take that too seriously.

Layering is what makes winter possible, what keeps us happy when the temperature drops, what makes us feel chic 'n' sexy and not bitter and cold.

The other day the ground was white at 6am when I got up early, excited about a day in Christchurch, so had a quick shower and went back to bed for a warm-up.

When I woke it was 8am so with shower done needed only to dress and drive to the airport.

In the car I thought I saw a shadow of lace-edged blue on my hand but put my mind back on the road and thought no more of it.


Close sitting by a stranger I thought, truly, his eye wandered slightly my way, off the air hostess's explanation of exits.

I smiled hello and became engrossed in the in-flight literature.

Landed in Christchurch to my Joseph's welcoming smile and whispered "mum, you've still got your nightie on".

So I had, the first of those many layers. It was that well washed blue winceyette I'd seen in the car and another glimpse clearing my winter boots - not an airy-fairy nightie but a serviceable cover-all- points job recommended for tsunamis and hotel evacuations.

Winter dressing can pose a challenge.

Later that same cold week I met a former colleague who greeted me with delighted warmth and ready recognition, swearing he'd never forgotten me and how good to see I still "had it".

My encyclopaedic knowledge of 19th century European wars?

No. My slight girlish glow faded.

He meant he would know me anywhere by the winter coat I was wearing, an old warm camel that comes out twice a year to mark the coldest days.

He remembered me wearing it years and years ago when all around wore brief jackets, and thought it was probably my mother's coat - "and here you are, still looking great".

I took some selfies and sent them to my brothers and to a man they said they loved the pic, and the memories of Mum it brought.

I felt pleased, puzzled - and still warm.

The Southland Times