I've been thinking about my grandma this week. She'll be 90 at the end of this year. She's still pretty dang sharp--lives on her own, drives, and all that. She and my mom do most everything together, which is good because someone has to keep my mom in line.
For probably longer than I've been alive, Grandma's gotten her hair done (as opposed to doing her own styling). The style has varied some over the years, but the basic structure is the same--short, curled, teased, and Aqua Netted in place. This is the sort of hair where you don't take chances. You have a dedicated hair routine at bedtime, a perking-up hair routine in the morning, and under no circumstances do you go gallivanting out in the rain without some sort of hair protection.
Now, being an adult and having my own purse, I can guess at the contents of Grandma's purse, but as a kid I remember a basic few: Wrigley's Spearmint gum, mints, Kleenex, nail file, and the ever-present, never failing, fold-up rain bonnet. Living in Phoenix, she didn't use the rain bonnet all that often, but I do remember it on occasion. It always struck me as a silly, if handy, thing to keep around, but it's one of those things that always said, "grandma" to me, so there you have it. If nothing else, I understood and appreciated its function. And still do.
While I understood the rain bonnet, the thing I never "got" was the plain old handkerchief tied around the head, which I would sometimes see on other ladies. I mean, what on earth does a simple piece of fabric accomplish? It reminds me of women and girls from some arbitrary "Old Country" in WWII-era black and white photos, wearing sensible knee-length dresses, similar to Edith Bunker, along with lace-up shoes and either nylons or simple cotton crew socks, and looking not particularly happy, but somehow joyful just the same. But did they keep the rain out? I think not. Plus now, it's entirely appropriate for ladies to wear baseball caps, or to just tie their hair back with a hair tie or scrunchee.
(Incidentally, I'm pretty sure scrunchees have been way out of style for a while now, but I still wear one on my wrist, and most days it makes its way into my hair by 10 am due to grabbing and such by little hands. I have yet to find a hair tie with the same balance between tension and comfort that I can achieve with the right scrunchee.)
Well, I've lived in Cheyenne for over a year and a half now, and I finally put two and two together with old ladies wearing handkerchiefs on their heads and...the dang wind. Perhaps there's a little vanity involved, but here it's a very little vanity; it's more an issue of not having one's hair yanked out by the roots in the kind of gusts we get. A handkerchief can be tied snug enough to protect one's hair-helmet, without smushing it flat. If Grandma lived up here, I'm certain she would keep at least one handkerchief with her at all times, plus an emergency one hidden somewhere in her purse, in case she ever forgot.
I know that's what I'd do...