Spring Jackets and Muddy Boots

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We’ve had glorious early spring weather this past week here in the Ottawa area. And we are very, very grateful. And excited. Well, I’m excited. Hubby wasn’t all that keen about his ski yesterday. He set off early before the temperature rose above zero. And still he had to pick his way around slush and even a couple of grassy, muddy spots on the trail. It always amazes me how when the snow starts to go, it doesn’t dally. So while Hubby is grumbling and wiping mud off his ski boots, I’ve been gleefully unzipping garment bags and removing my spring jackets and coats from storage.

On Thursday morning I opened the back door, tea cup in hand, and stepped out onto our back step in my slippers. Only last week the biting wind blew, and the river lay buried under deep snow. But, on Thursday morning the sun shone. I could see up the river to open water where geese sailed about or sat on the ice and squawked. The breeze was warm. I sipped my tea and just breathed. Then I went inside to refill my cup, and headed out to the deck. I sat in a warm patch on the bench where the sun had melted the snow. And I drank my tea on the deck in my slippers and robe for the first time this year.

Wearing a spring jacket for the first time this year.
I sat here earlier in my slippers and robe and drank my morning tea.

Later, I made myself ready for an outing. This is what I wore. My Theory reversible windbreaker, grey camo on one side and black on the other. This jacket is seven years old and looks like new. I love it even more now that my hair is white. I wore the jacket with my black H&M hoodie, a light-blue Zella long-sleeve tee from Nordstrom, my black cotton draw-string cargo pants bought at Green Tree Eco Fashion, now sadly closed, and my Stuart Weitzman ankle boots. As a concession to the fact that it is still very early spring, I wore my ski underwear under my light cotton pants.

I like this outfit. Super casual. Still pulled together. And suitable for hopping muddy puddles, or wading through slush as long as it’s not too deep.

Wearing my Theory spring jacket with H&M hoodie, cotton cargo pants, and Stuart Weitzman boots.
Off to the library in my spring jacket.

What a glorious day it was to be out and about. I returned books to the library, picked up a DVD we’d ordered, and strolled around the village, ending up at Watson’s Mill. Below is the view up river from the dam beside the mill. The water is lying in puddles on the ice which means this will soon be open water. The cog-wheel and chains are for opening and closing the sluice gates on the dam. You know, there’s something about old machinery that I love.

View up the Rideau River from Watson's Mill dam in Manotick.
The view upriver from the dam at Watson’s Mill, Manotick.

At home I often take pictures of the abandoned bits of old tractors, the rusted tines of a hay rake, or the hood of an ancient truck almost buried in the long grass. Found art. On one trip home, in 2017 I think, I took photos of the old sawmill. Now derelict, it has fallen in on itself. That mill was old even in 1945, when a farmer from upriver gave it to my step-father the summer he came home from the war. He disassembled it, lugged it home, and reassembled it. He was still cutting logs and sawing up boards with it when I left home for the second time to move back to Ottawa in 1984.

After I took my photos that day, in Marie Kondo-style, I thanked the old mill for its decades of service. I guess that’s why the sight of that cog-wheel on the dam at Watson’s Mill made me feel slightly nostalgic.

the derelict sawmill on the farm in New Brunswick
Part of my step-father’s sawmill, now derelict.

My boots were muddy by the time I arrived back home on Thursday. But my Theory spring jacket had had a good outing. After lunch, I dug around in the hall closet to survey my collection of spring jackets and coats. I have a navy, hooded anorak from Moncler, a black raincoat from Michael Kors, and my Theory windbreaker. I’ve been thinking of adding to my spring coat collection. I thought about it last year too. I’d like a classic trench coat. Longer than my Moncler coat, falling at or below the knee. I already have a navy coat and a black one, so my colour choices are limited. That soft blue plaid coat from Club Monaco, below, caught my eye. As well as the cream cotton-twill trench from H&M. I may make a foray downtown to do some window shopping next week. We’ll see.

Since the weather warmed up, I’ve been considering turning my closet. At least partially. Moving my heavier winter clothes into storage and getting out a few spring things. But since we will not be seeing anymore double-digit, above-zero temperatures for at least another week, I will wait. It’s much too early for that spring ritual anyway.

So, yeah, I’ve been thinking lately about closet-turning. And about the value of our clothes. Not only because it’s almost spring, but also because I listened to Alyson Walsh chat with Orsola De Castro on an episode of That’s Not My Age podcast recently. You can find it here. As it says in the notes for the podcast, Orsola De Castro is a “fashion revolutionary. Her first book Loved Clothes Last (How the Joy of Rewearing and Repairing Your Clothes Can Be a Revolutionary Act) has just been published by Penguin.”

De Castro says that we should love our clothes, and value them more. She encourages people to buy quality garments, pieces that we really love, and which we’ve chosen with care. And then to take good care of them. She says that we should all know how to mend our clothes, at least be able to sew on a button or repair a dropped hem.

I’ve always chosen my clothes carefully, mindful of quality, buying what I love, and hoping to be able to wear them for years. And now I’m thinking that maybe turning my closet twice a year makes me value my clothes more. I am always happy to see my fall sweaters or my spring jackets when I bring them back out after having been stored for half a year. Absence does make the heart grow fonder.

And I’ve been thinking that maybe closet-turning should be more Marie-Kondo-esque in nature. Maybe I should express my gratitude to my clothes, not just when I say good-bye to them forever, but when I say “see you next year.” I should maybe say thank-you to each of my favourite fall and winter sweaters and jackets, as I fold them neatly away, and zip up the storage bags. And maybe I should say “welcome back” to each of my spring pieces. “I’m happy to see you again striped tee shirt. Remember that time last summer when you and I and those cropped jeans and my old linen blazer went for lunch to the Ashton Pub?”

As I said, it will be a few weeks before the closet-turning ritual takes place. In the meantime, I am grateful to see my spring jackets and coats again. And this spring I am going to introduce them to some of my winter sweaters. After all, they don’t really know each other, spending opposite seasons in storage, or in my closet, as they do.

On second thought, I’d better not get carried away with this personification of my clothes. I mean, we’re all a bit batty from the never-ending pandemic. And if Hubby hears me talking to my clothes, he might really start to worry.

So, muddy boots, and spring jackets are making me happy this week. How about you my friends? Any heralds of spring out your way? What spring garments are you welcoming back into your closet this week?

P.S. Clothing links (and one book link) in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking my link, I will earn a commission.

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42 thoughts on “Spring Jackets and Muddy Boots”

  1. I’m glad your weather is easing & can imagine the sound of ice cracking . We’ve had lots of rain recently ( muddy walks ☹️) but today there’s sunshine & it’s 10 degrees . A beautiful spring morning with a pale green haze where the garden plants are developing buds . I’m meeting my sisters for a walk with our three dogs . We haven’t got together for a year , since all this began & it will be wild – especially for the dogs . We’ve been so careful & though we are all vaccinated will still distance ourselves & stay away from others . It’s got to be better than Zoom .
    I have a query . Max is very interested in the old sawmill & would like to know how it was driven , water or steam originally before becoming diesel ? He’s got a thing about old machinery too .

    1. Oh, that sister dog walk will be so much fun, Wendy. Much better than Zoom. Lloyd’s old sawmill was powered by the old Massey Ferguson tractor. It was only a small mill, with a roof, but open-sided. The sawing itself was powered by a belt attached to a fly-wheel and then attached to a wheel that stuck out from the side of the tractor engine. He just parked up the tractor attached the belt and started it up. There was also a planer which had it’s own gas powered (I think) engine. The mill was perched on a hill across the brook from and looking down on the house. One year the tractor somehow “got away”, broke the belt and went careening down the hill smashing into the brook. I had moved away by then and missed all the excitement.

  2. A herald of spring went past the house just as I was reading this. In March the cyclists – keen club types – are to be seen on the roads in groups, speeding along and chatting to each other. They have just whirled down the road and I love the sound. When I was a keen runner and getting the long Sunday runs in, I would head out into the countryside and they would zip by, always with a cheerful greeting to me as I pegged away at the miles. It was my favourite time to run – brighter weather, cool temperatures, daffodils and new lambs everywhere and Wharfedale opening up. I quite fancy a run-walk-trot outing soon.

    1. That sounds lovely Annie. Sometimes when Hubby and I go biking on the country roads we are passed by a gaggle of cyclists. They just whiz by us like we’re standing still. It’s very humbling. Ha.

  3. Signs of spring – two robins hopping around my garden yesterday and a flock of Canada geese just flew by heading north. I started the overturn of my winter to spring wardrobe yesterday. I put away the heaviest of my winter sweaters and coats, but as it’s only mid March in Ontario, I kept one winter coat and a pair of boots within reach. Like you, I always enjoy the ritual of the closet turning, and rediscovering items I had forgotten about or didn’t get a chance to wear last year due to lockdowns. Here’s hoping for an early spring.

    1. That’s one reason I am so excited to get my spring clothes out. I hardly wore them last year. But I’m also sad to pack away sweaters that have been seen only on the blog this year. I imagine it will be a fond reunion next fall, though. 🙂

  4. It’s snowing right now, so slush is a given. As much as I hate it, it’s good news: it will be easier to encourage people to avoid unnecessary contacts. Every cloud has a silver lining.

  5. Judith from Ottawa

    I’m in the east end of Ottawa and so share your delight in our spring weather last week. At one point during the more vigorous part of a daily walk, I peeled off layers until I was in my short-sleeved t-shirt. In March! Glorious! Everyone walking or jogging by either commented on the weather or just smiled knowingly and nodded because we all knew just how wonderful a 15C degree day feels after a hard winter.

    Great blog BTW. I feel like your twin in Beacon Hill. Thanks!!

  6. I find your turn of phrase(Closet-turning) interesting. I am calling it purging(the collection as my husband calls it! Just regional differences! As I used to tell my students.
    In Florida,we get 1 week of spring,then its summer,same for fall!. So I just go through and figure what still fits,what doesn’t and what I am really tired of. Off it all goes to Good Will,which is only a few blocks away. Very convenient! Our Canadian geese are still here. Most of the year,if the alligators don’t get them!The dogwood is getting ready to bloom- and that’s spring for us. STay dry from the slush and be safe. What are you reading?

    1. I purge as well… actually more of an edit because I have fewer clothes than when I was working. I’ll do this when I get out my new season clothes. I love this tidying ritual.
      P.S. Can you just keep the Canada geese down where you are??? What a noise and a mess they make when they descend upon us.

    2. Do my best. But the ones who come here seem to stay,unless they meet with an unfortunate accident-like cars or gators. It’s hard to track them and no one seems to band them or count them. I usually see about a dozen or so, every fall,when they arrive and float down our part of the water behind our home. But they are all over the place,our form of snowbird! The C. tourists go to the west coast of Florida,we get the birds . Had one neighbor who swore that they sat on the edge of her pool until she took the cover off and then all jumped in! As you said,messy birds! Please don’t send any more! I hear they are not very good to eat.Perhaps that’s why w have so many,they are super confident!

  7. Yes to spring signs…birds chirping, Canadian geese coming back home and rabbit do-do thru out the garden. Haha! Love it!! I’m sure there will be another dump of snow and that’s ok because it won’t “dally” long.
    I dashed out and picked up some spring clothes and even ordered a bike. When it comes in is a mystery as bikes are a hot item right now.
    Love spring and the renewed feeling that’s comes with it!

    1. That feeling of renewal… you are so right, Robin. Imagine what spring must have felt like for the early settlers who were cabin crazy after a long winter. I said to Stu the other day that I know how cows and horses feel the first day they are let out in the pasture. Even the old cows would run around.

  8. Hi Sue, I am a new follower, from way down here in South Carolina but have really been enjoying your posts. So happy to here that you are experiencing the beginnings of spring! Have been turning my closet slowly for a couple of week. It is so refreshing to see my old Spring clothes and see what holes did to be filled. I do admit I sometimes will buy something just for the joy of having something new, wether I need it or not. Thanks for all the fashion inspiration, the book posts and your crazy party’s. Have you considered any food posts? What your eating now or a favorite recipe. Will be reading.

  9. I read somewhere that hope is the possibility of change and spring is such a hopeful season. Last spring the bluebells ran riot in my garden as we’d had quite a bit of rain in the preceding autumn and winter and I adored seeing the magnolias and blossoms on trees around my neighbourhood. The leaves are starting to turn around here and the early camellias are blooming. Autumn has its share of change too but in a quieter, gentler way that is hopeful nevertheless.

  10. I enjoyed Alyson’s podcast with Orsola, while sewing a button on my shirt no less. It was a good reminder of why we need to be mindful of our purchases. I do love all of my clothes and treat them with respect. Consequently, they last for years. I have not tried taking to them though 😉. As for “closet turning”, my Soia and Kyo winter coat has not been worn for a couple of weeks now, so will be cleaned and put away soon. My lighter Spring jackets and Hunter boots have come out of hiding and once the muck is gone, I will switch over to shorter boots and blazers. Sue, since you are looking to add to your Spring coats, silver may be another colour option to consider. I bought a silver coloured trench three years ago and absolutely love the colour with my white hair. Since it’s a neutral shade, it has become a workhorse in my wardrobe. Happy hunting!

    1. I was surprised what Alyson said in the podcast about the number of people who don’t know how to sew on a button. One day when I was hemming a pair of Hubby’s pants he looked at my stitches and asked where I’d learned to do that. And I couldn’t tell him. Watching Mum when I was a child, I guess. It was just part of normal life. I don’t like to sew but at least I do know how to do it.:) Your gradual switch over almost mimics mine. First jackets and coats, then blazers but still wearing ankle boots. Finally, sneakers and bare ankles!

  11. Last week spring weather, today in the middle of a blizzard. The weather forecasters are happy though…the snow didn’t come in until 24 hours after they predicted. 😉 I put on an old green, bulky sweater and made the hubby Corned Beef and cabbage. Loved the sweater back in the day, but I think I am just a bit too old for another winter of wear. I will thank it for its service and donate. No closet turning for a while here, but think I’ll make sure to wear all the really cold weather sweaters before they get put up for a few months. Stay warm all.

  12. Spring is my favourite season. Everything looks so fresh, sparkly and clean. Unfortunately we are heading into autumn down here in NZ so I am getting out the warm clothes and getting ready to pa ck up the summer things. We are still getting days of 25°C so not quite ready to cast off the tee-shirts. This last weekend was glorious with bright blue skies and lots of sunshine. Thousands of people crowded into the city to watch the America’s Cup yacht racing and everyone looked so happy to be out and about and having a great time after our fourth lockdown. Hope the snow and ice clears soon for all of you up north.

    1. When we were in Wellington, New Zealand in 2003 we stayed at a B&B where the hosts were avidly following the America’s Cup so we did too. They were so distraught the day the mast on the NZ boat broke that we took them out for supper. You guys follow that sport like we do hockey.

  13. Lovely blog, again. The weather here is mixed (Mid Wales in the UK – on a line with Birmingham, but on the Welsh/English border). We had some foul winds and rain last week – had to dig out the earplugs overnight, as our bedroom is in the roofline of the 16th Century part of our house, so we hear everything! But today is lovely and sunny, with a reasonable forecast for the week to come.
    It’s funny, but I’ve been closet-turning for years, waaay before it became a “thing” it would seem (although tbf we call it wardrobe switch-over)! LOL However, there’s no way am I closet-turning yet. Not even putting away the winter stuff as I’ve learned my lesson – 3 years ago we had the “Beast from the East No 2” create loads more snow, so although we don’t get the volume or quantity of Canada, we still get some…
    We’ve had some opening-up of our lockdown No 3 here in Wales, with hairdressers now allowed to open, although sadly the soonest I was able to get was next Friday 26th!!! Ah well, it’s something to look forward to!
    Fingers crossed for a lovely spring and summer.

    1. You have a 16th century house… I am so jealous. 🙂
      re: “closet turning” I always called it “getting my spring clothes out” until a friend at work, years ago when I arrived in a spring suit, said “You’ve turned your closet.” And ever since then I’ve used her phrase. This was always a big event when I was a child. Mum would open the huge cedar chest and we’d unpack our spring clothes. I would always hope that this was the year I would fit into some of my older sister’s dresses.

  14. From Oregon: Daffodils are blooming everywhere, trees are starting to blossom or have already bloomed. Once in awhile there is a sunshiny day. And it just SMELLS different. Just bought (secondhand, online) 2 Bryn Walker linen outfits and a FLAX linen duster to pump up the spring wardrobe and help deal with some weight gain– time to start wearing them…although I still wore a wool tunic dress and EF system slim pants, albeit layered with a linen sweater–on our outing Sunday to receive my first dose of (Phizer) vaccine. A season of transition. @Fiona Potts–wow–incredible!! I’m jealous, too!! 16th Century–that is so AWESOME!!

  15. Hi Sue. We’ve had a mix of dismal grey days and beautiful sunny ones. It’s still cold enough for me to continue with my boots, puffa coat, hat, and gloves when I’m out walking, although if wearing a polo neck I have started to leave my scarf at home! 😊
    There’s lots of signs of spring … blossom on the trees and buds pushing through the frost on the grass. I’m starting to dream about warm winds and the warmth of the sun on my face …
    I think you look great in your jacket with the camo effect showing … perfect with your hair colour and a really cool, stylish outfit, overall.
    I loved reading about Lloyd and your love of machinery … really good pictures!
    Rosie

    1. Me too, Rosy. I’m still wearing my down jacket when I walk, albeit with less underneath it. The only sign of spring here today is Stu practicing his putting on the living room rug, and trying to find something to do outside. Skiing is well over, and it’s actually too cold and windy this morning for walking.

  16. Lovely that the spring is coming!
    I must confess that I love my clothes and take good care of them. Still,I’m not talking with them (“Conversations with friends”,:-)!)yet, but I caress my latest coats,that were not out and about,whenever I’m in my wardrobe. How quirky is that?
    Although,as I mostly combine my walks with errands,I’m now a typical person,going out in sneakers and joggers (with a silk scarf),not so elegant and put together as you!
    Dottoressa

  17. Wendy in Limburg

    I look forward to the seasonal closet swap as well. I have an old cedar chest that holds off season woolies. I grew up in a large family so we didn’t have much and learned to take care of our things. I also learned to sew early and while I don’t make many of my own clothes, I often have to alter sleeves or hem pants. I discovered that better quality clothes are easier to alter and last longer.
    I love the description of you enjoying your tea on your deck, sniffing the spring air.

  18. It really says something about the adaptability of human beings that we live in such a different climates. Even with heat and air conditioning, the experience is so different.

    Today in tropical Florida we were at 29°C. (I had to look up the conversion). Although I love a nice cozy fleece or a pretty cardigan, I’m sensitive to wool and I don’t like bundling up, so I guess it’s good that I live in a warm climate. But I am sometimes envious of winter fashion.

    1. I guess if you don’t like bundling and can’t wear wool, it is lucky that you live where you do. I am sooo sick of bundling at this time of year. Yesterday I walked with just a light turtleneck under my light down jacket and it felt so freeing. At 5°C with sunshine… I even took off my hat. Ha.

  19. Just reading this post today, and on the same page with starting the seasonal closet shift. I went looking for a great navy cotton poplin Eileen Fisher skirt I bought last fall. Haven’t worn it, but have high hopes of the ways I will style it for spring and summer. It needs to be shortened, and that gives me an errand to do soon so I’m ready when the first sort-of-dress-up occasion arises. Distance and outdoor dining? Yup, looking forward to that like many of us. We’ve had a few patio dates on milder days with our outdoor heater. A really fun way to gather with one or two people. Thanks for a fun post!

    1. I cannot wait to go for outdoor coffee with a friend. Suitably distanced because we are back in the red zone as of tomorrow. I am so on board with the idea of looking for errands to run just to be able to go somewhere. I must check to see if I have anything that needs to be altered. 🙂

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