Back in the ‘60s, Clay and I were hippie flower children. We wore coveralls and bandanas as we listened to folk tunes and hugged trees. Now, getting close to our 60s, all that stuff that was part of the cool and funky statement we were making has woven itself into our real lives. We listen to Americana music, talk about being good to Mother Earth and want to hug a tree to thank it for sheltering us on those hot summer days. And those coveralls, bandanas, straw hats and work boots, once emblematic of our grooviness, are now the uniform of our lives. Certain clothes are part of the enduring caricature of a farmer for a reason.
- First the boots. Athletic shoes don’t belong on a farm. Stuff gets in them and stuff gets dropped on them. Strong, sturdy boots are a must in a farmer's toolkit.
- A ball cap may shade your eyes but it doesn’t do a thing to cover the back of your neck. That tender skin will fry in the hot sun, and a leathery neck will make wearing a cute little ponytail a thing of the past. Plus the ball cap holds heat on the top of your head. A nice, broad-brimmed straw hat both covers and cools.
- A bandanna comes in handy. We dunk it in a pail of water and tie it around our necks to cool off, or pull it over our noses to keep out the fine Goldridge soil that rises up like a cloud of baby powder.
- The temptation is to wear a white, sleeveless shirt on a hot day, but we find that a long-sleeved, light-colored shirt actually keeps us cooler. We’ve learned a lot from the vineyard workers who wear zipped-up hoodies with the hoods up over their caps.
- And finally, the coveralls. We could wear our favorite jeans, but then we have to strap on that big belt that includes our pruning shears, Hori Hori knife and Leatherman multi-tool. (Never, ever an iPod; we're out in nature after all.) The minute we'd try to walk, the weight of all those tools would drag our pants down, if not to our knees, then definitely far enough to give us immediate entre’ to the Plumbers Union.
So Clay and I put on our coveralls. Farmer Johns. Bib overalls. Whatever you call them, they were the coolest when we were kids, and now—older, wiser and happier—they keep us covered in the new millennium.