I pulled the gray felt hat out of its protective Stratton box, admiring the familiar dimpled shape and outrageously flat brim. Pushing it onto my head, breathing “please please fit, please,” I was relieved to find that it almost did. Tight, but workable if one doesn’t mind a sunken red impression striped across one’s forehead. Perhaps I’ll locate a colleague with a hat stretcher.
Sliding the embossed ‘USNPS’ hat band from my summer straw hat onto the winter hat, the ensemble was complete and I could walk to work for my first day ever in the winter park ranger uniform. Dripping with professionalism, it’s a much smarter look than the breezy summer uniform. The heavier pants drape beautifully. The tapered winter-weight shirt is finished off with mandatory green tie and arrowhead tie tack — a novelty for this woman whose off-duty wardrobe choices favor femininity over androgyny.
Mt Tukuhnikivatz, bedecked in a fresh garment of shimmering white, greeted me above the morning fog as I approached the Visitor Center and took a deep breath of chilly mesa air. The day brimmed with promise.