Thursday, May 13, 2010

Derby Hats

As I settled into my window seat on what appeared to be a full flight, I was imagining myself landing in Kentucky. It is a little mind game I always play to assure a safe flight. My seat mate is a slender young woman and we chat up our destination plans. It turns out we are both headed to Louisville for a week-end of horse racing, a first for both of us. We nod to the woman several isles in front of us as she places a hat box in the overhead, obviously Derby bound.

I am so excited. For as long as I can remember I have wanted to attend the Kentucky Derby and here I am; it is swiftly becoming a reality. I am on my way to visit a long time friend, Peggy, who was transferred to Louisville three years ago. She had sent me a copy of two local magazines, both dedicated to the Derby ritual. One, specifically for women, was all about the hats. They wrote of dresses and shoes but almost as an afterthought. It really is “all about the hat”.

Peggy has an outrageous red and purple hat that she purchased last summer on a trip back to Colorado. We had stopped at the brand new Visitor Center in Georgetown, off I-70, looking for really clean bathrooms. We found those, thank goodness, but she also found this wild and crazy Victorian style hat ~ large red felt, complete with plumes, gauze and yards of shiny ribbon. I saw garish, she envisioned Derby!!

“You’re kidding?” I questioned her sanity until I saw the look in her eye. She was already there.

“No, really. It is a perfect Derby hat.” She was so excited and moved swiftly into problem solving; how to get this prodigious hat home on the airplane. I speculated on the necessity of buying it its own seat!

But now my competitive nature rises to the surface as Peggy and I discuss my own head gear. We have a very loose plan based on a basic straw hat that Peggy purchased for $2.50 at a flea market. We are going to go shopping for flowers, plumes, ribbon, etc., which we will hot glue onto above mentioned bonnet. I have a pale green sundress to base my color scheme around and envision a green and purple creation.

The scene at Dee’s reminds me of a hen house door thrown open. At least one hundred bodies were hurtling from one stall to the next, excitedly pecking at bin after bin of feathers, flowers and bows, “Oh my” ~ cackling amongst themselves as they search for that special treat. Peg and I joined right in, plucking out a six inch wide bright purple dahlia, a long dark green ostrich feather, several purple peacock “eye” feathers and one yard of beautiful purple ribbon. Our piece de resistance was a stem of blue silk butterflies that Peg found. After grabbing a free bottle of chilled water (keeping the hens hydrated) I shelled out $28 and change for my color coordinated hodgepodge.

I am not very artistic and had some doubts as to whether we would create a mess or a “keeper”. However, the next morning we covered the kitchen table with newspaper, Peggy pulled out her hot glue gun and creative inspiration took over. All I can say is we had a blast creating a “work of art”.

I am thrilled to report that both of our hats survived the rains of Derby day and Peggy did receive several thumbs up for her bonnet. She just smiled. I have fallen in love with our work of love. It is so adorable that I am now faced with Peggy’s earlier dilemma; how to get my perfect Derby hat home.

* annette

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