The ugly hat


It was last century since a winter storm brought this town to its knees for more than just a day. Back in ’94 it went by several names.

Dubbed the snow storm of the century, or Snow Jam, it slowed traffic on all the major freeways to a crawl and kept motivated students from school for a few days, but it was nothing like the ice storm that hit us Sunday night.

I think it’s safe to say that, for those of us who didn’t know already, one inch of ice on the streets and this town shuts down. And this time it lasted for three glorious days.

Why am I so gleeful, you might ask? The answer is staring you right in the face; at least it would be if you could see me as I write this article wearing my ugly hat.

The ugly hat had it origins from a deer that frolicked through the northern woods and ended up being turned into a very ugly, yet very warm, hat. One The Wife does not like at all.

Twelve years ago was the first time she saw the unique head warmer and remarked, “For better or worse didn’t include ugly hats.”

Which may explain why, soon thereafter, it went missing and was just found this past Monday morning in a box of old Christmas lights buried deep in the basement.

My ugly vest, surely made from the same deer, was also mysteriously in the same box. Strangely it was marked to give away to Goodwill next week — the box, not the ugly hat or vest.

I would never give them away. The wife was less than overjoyed when I emerged from the basement wearing both.

She’s from up north and remembered from childhood that the key to not getting stranded was to clear the driveway and keep it cleared.
Me, I think it was just a way for her parents to get three bored kids out of the house.

In either case, the task at hand was to clear the driveway. And I was going to start first thing Monday, but after searching high and low for the ugly hat and vest, I couldn’t find my thermal underwear.

Besides, the search for the ugly hat and vest had taken most of the morning, and it was time for lunch.

After lunch it was nap-time for me and the cats. I figured the snow and ice wasn’t going anywhere, and neither were we. After about an hour I awoke with a mouthful of fur and the gray and black cat purring next to my head. She would make a very warm hat if she would only stay on my head.

My quest for the thermal underwear eventually led me to the summer drawer alongside my bathing suit. Now all I had to do was find my waterproof, Italian, insulated snow boots. Lucky for me I cut on the television to see the winter storm coverage and there was a Star Trek marathon. The driveway could wait a little longer; besides I had to see how the Captain was going to escape the black hole and time distortion.

Dinner came and went with the ice and snow continually falling and piling up on our driveway. It would be too dark and dangerous to clear it at night, so I made the executive decision that the driveway could wait until Tuesday.

First thing Tuesday morning, dressed in thermal underwear top and bottom, ugly hat and vest, I finally found my snow boots behind the dryer, so I started outside.

Then realized I needed a snow shovel. Turns out that I was really prepared for this challenge since I not only have one but two snow shovels. Don’t even bother ask me why in Georgia I would have two snow shovels.

It took until well after lunch Tuesday before I could locate one of my two snow shovels, but by then it was time for another nap. All that searching just wore me out. Afterwards I switched on the news to see the weather forecast. The Captain was now caught in a space time rift. Well, I just had to find out what happened. Besides the ice and snow wasn’t going anywhere.

After dinner, snuggled around the fire, I told The Wife I would cut on the outside lights and start the clearing process. She just smiled and said, “If that’s what you really want to do.”

The next day the sun came out and melted all the ice that was still on our driveway.

Me with my ugly vest and hat, her with her blankie, we both stayed warm in front of the fireplace and watched movies for three days.

Spending quality time inside with the one you love is the best way to clear ice from a driveway.

Oh, yeah, did I mention we have a basement full of homemade adult beverages?

Let it snow, let it ice, let it snow.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for more than two decades and a columnist for The Citizen since 2001. His email is]