I have a total of five scarves that I try to alternate so that I don’t wear out any too quickly because I have this tendency to wear something all the time if I really like it. Like my gray Uniqlo thermal shirt my sister bought me. I would wear it underneath everything as a layered piece. I had asked W. to buy me another one during his visit to NY so that I would have one to wear when the other was in the wash. He came back with two more! One teal, the other my default gray. The teal one is reserved for those special occasions when I’m feeling United Colors of Benetton and pair it with my bright green 3/4 sleeve cowl neck sweater or when I can’t stand the thought of another day in gray.
My mom gave me a lush wool Renoma scarf when they came to visit us from Korea in December, and I wore it almost everyday until I realized it was starting to take on a slightly shabby appearance. The delicate threads weren’t as perfectly taut but were beginning to subtly loosen and fray. The scarf feels luxurious; it’s different shades of gray with burgandy woven throughout, and it is thick and so wide I keep it folded in half lengthwise. This is the scarf I reserve for especially chilly days or for days when my outfit needs a lift.
Another scarf I wear on cold days is a teal cashmere scarf the mister got me for Christmas. Don’t lose this one like you did the last one, he said. Haha, I laughed wishing he’d forgotten as I wrapped the scarf around my neck. That color really brightens your face, he remarked. I smiled and suddenly wanted to wear it all the time. It’s soft, it’s warm; it hugs my neck the best.
Wind, I’ve learned, can be sneaky and lethal. Like ninjas. It causes strokes and chills the bones. There’s this one guy who has Bell’s Palsy which is where half of your face is paralyzed. According to Chinese Medicine, something like Bell’s Palsy which western medicine don’t know the cause of, is brought on by wind. And this guy is a motorcyclist. The most vulnerable place where the wind can easily get to is our necks which is why I wear scarves. Even on days that are sunny when I can tell there’s a breeze, I’ll wear a scarf. I have three that are for such occasions. There’s my very light white cotton scarf with small silver polka dots that I wear on warm days. There’s my white scarf a friend painstakingly knit that resembles a spider’s web made of delicate pearl. And finally, my cream cotton scarf with a Rilke poem in calligraphy silk screened on, given to me by a friend as a wedding gift. It’s a romantic scarf because of how it tends to wrinkle and of course, the ink calligraphy. I leave you with the poem that is repeatedly printed on the scarf:
The Eighth Elegy
from The Duino Elegies
by Rainer Maria Rilke
With all its eyes the natural world looks out
into the Open. Only our eyes are turned
backward, and surround plant, animal, child
like traps, as they emerge into their freedom.
We know what is really out there only from
the animal’s gaze; for we take the very young
child and force it around, so that it sees
objects–not the Open, which is so
deep in animals’ faces. Free from death.
We, only, can see death; the free animal
has its decline in back of it, forever,
and God in front, and when it moves, it moves
already in eternity, like a fountain.
from the translation by Stephen Mitchell