As I assembled this outfit, fondly imagining I'd find something poetic and not-boring to say about fall leaves, I found myself unexpectedly fixated on pockets. Specifically, what exactly I'd pack in that backpack versus what would get stashed in the pockets of the vest, and how both would hang by the door, ready and stocked for daily walks. It brought to mind a passage from An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L'Engle that I read sometime in the last century:
She turned up the collar of the red anorak she had taken from the generous supply that hung on pegs outside her grandparents’ kitchen door. It was her favorite because it fitted her well and was warm and comfortable, and she liked it because the pockets were full of all kinds of things: a small but very bright flashlight; a pair of scissors; a notepad in a leather binder, with a purple felt pen; an assortment of paper clips, safety pins, rubber bands; a pair of dark glasses; a dog biscuit (for what dog?).As a kid, I put a lot of thought into pockets and their contents. My dad's hunting jackets offered a lot of inspiration, with an appealing mix of shotgun shells, lead fishing sinkers, Tiger Balm, Luden's Cough Drop boxes, and the odd piece of Halloween candy. I liked to carry paperclips, some string, and small magnets, in case I dropped something down a hole or grate (never mind that we never lived anywhere with a grate; it was something I'd read about and I wanted to be prepared). My sister and I hoarded old Tic-Tac boxes with the labels peeled off and the little plastic vials candy lipsticks came in, both perfect for stashing tiny pieces of sparkly quartz and/or bugs. Quarters were treasured for the random candy machines that lived at the entryways of the grocery store. I also liked to keep half-eaten rolls of minty Lifesavers with me, in case I found myself in the dark and needed sparks.
Even in an era of phones that do everything, I find comfort in a pocket full of useful (and not-so-useful) things. Sean gave me a many-pocketed coat for my birthday, and the best part is the poacher's pocket — perfect for a paperback, a folded NYRB, or the odd quail.