imaginary outfit: absurd cold

Between head colds and extreme cold, it feels like I've been stuck in my house for ages (it's been two-and-a-half days) and my normal appreciation for a spare, neutral palette has become a cabin-fevered longing for bright, jarring color. Four male cardinals are perched in the apple tree outside my window, waiting for a turn at the bird feeder, and I am so glad for the red, and for whatever weird force of natural selection determined that blending in was not the thing for a male cardinal to do (sidebar: Tim Flannery's reviews of bird books in the NYRB are wonderful; 'Objectifying Male Birds' is fascinating; 'Extravagant, Aggressive Birds Down Under' is hilarious and terrifying).

This is when I look at my carefully collected pile of sweaters and feel my soul make a giant, dismissive shrug. Just like every February I remember too late that I really need to escape somewhere sunny and warmish for a few days, in my springtime closet purges I blissfully assume I can somehow make it through the winter without craving some shockingly colored piece of knitwear, which I inevitably feel compelled to acquire on sale in January and wear nonstop in February and March, before a spring-cleaning-minded me determines it is an unnecessary wardrobe outlier and thus must go.

And so, a note to myself: when springtime closet cleanouts beckon, remember the cardinal. When the days are grey and long and cold, color is a joy. Keep the wild sweater.