- Layer 1: Merino wool hiking t-shirt with zip-up collar to seal off my neck: the one snagged by various tree branches and stained brown with blood from mosquitoes that bit me on Shoshone Lake in Yellowstone six years ago. This one has been with me through thick and thin; you gotta trust the layer closest your skin.
- Layer 2: Another merino wool shirt, this one long-sleeved. Because, wool! Also because cotton kills. And, as my sister said, quoting my dad, “It’s all about the gear.”
- Layer 3: A long-sleeved poly shirt, white, to match…
- Layer 4:…My brand-new green and gold Packers long-sleeved t-shirt, which I ordered from the Pro Shop online last Sunday night after our win over the Bears. Little did I know when I ordered that I’d be headed to the Pro Shop in person less than a week later.
- Layer 5: A fleece jacket.
- Layer 6: A fleece vest.
- Layer 7: An old faux-fur-trimmed coat of my mom’s from the 90s. Suggesting it before we left River Falls on Saturday, she said, “It won’t look the best, but it has a hood, and it’ll cover your butt.” It didn’t look the best, but it had a hood, and it covered my butt.
- Layer 8: A down jacket I bought two years ago at REI in Missoula.
- Layer 9: The new green and gold fleece blanket I bought at the Pro Shop, in person, before the game.
- Layer 1: Long underwear. (Side rant that’s extra annoying now that I live back in the bragging-rights-cold Midwest: why were so many people in DC so complainey about temps the second they dipped below 30 degrees yet so reluctant to own, or say the words, long underwear?) Long underwear! Long underwear! Long underwear!
- Layer 2: Ski pants. So comfy and cozy. I wish I could live wearing ski pants all day every day.
- Layer 3: Green wool pants. I think my dad got these at Fleet Farm in the military surplus section? He gave them to me for ice fishing. By the time I inched them up over all my other layers, the top button didn’t close, but no one noticed because, good news, I had that jacket from my mom that covered my butt!
- Oh, and inside each back pocket of the wool pants: hand warmers for my butt. I think this was the secret to my completely chill-free game experience.
- Layer 1: Wool socks.
- Layer 2: Wool socks.
- Layer 3: Wool socks.
- Also: A foot-shaped boot warmer scored by my sister. Great find, Kathryn! Not even the super-salted icy cement of Lambeau Field could chill its way through that baby.
- Layer 4: Mukluks. I may be a Packers fan, but I live in Minnesota now.
- A red silk scarf that my dad gave me. He said I might look like a cow puncher when I wear it, but there’s a reason cow punchers had (red) silk scarves around their necks…turns out, silk scarves are super warm in the winter and super cool in the summer. Go figure! They are also good for breathing through when the cattle you’re driving to Montana get to churning up big clouds of West Texas dust.
- The maroon and black paisley pashmina Amanda brought back for me from India six years ago. Amanda, you were there with me in spirit! (Amanda is the one who said, “Our dairy makes us strong, our beer makes us fearless.”)
- Layer 1: Hair. I wore it down for a reason!
- Layer 2: A yellow fleece headband.
- Layer 3: That wool stocking cap I wear to sleep all the time when I go camping, the one with ear flaps that tie under the chin.
- Layer 4: A new Packers stocking hat, which came with some cool free buttons! Also purchased at the Pro Shop, in person, before the game.
- The warmest pair of chopper gloves you could ever meet. The things are seriously indomitable. All told, my digits spent a good six hours in these babies on Sunday, yet the only place I put hand warmers all day were the pockets on my butt. I found this pair of choppers lying in a snowbank off a forest service road in northern Wisconsin near the trailhead to Porcupine Lake, a favorite spot for ice fishing. Dear person who dropped these, I can tell by all the stains and cuts in the leather that you wore them and loved ‘em good. They are the best pair of gloves I never intended to have, and while I bet your winter gear will never be the same, I can only wonder how many fish they helped you catch. Now your choppers have seen a fellow Wisconsinite through a subzero Packers playoff game in the frozen tundra: for your history with them and for my own, these choppers will be treasured as they ought to be.
Things I Wish I’d Worn
- A beard, so I could have beer freeze all over in it like that drunk guy two rows ahead of us who turned around and gave everyone enthusiastic, mitten-blunted high-fives after every play that went even slightly in the Packers’ favor (i.e., any play that did not lead directly to points for the 9ers—there was a lot of high-fiving with that guy).
- Those yellow foam, cheese-head style bra things? Nope…actually, I do not wish I’d worn one of those. So actually I only wish I’d had the beard, for freezing beer in.
Miscellaneous other things I wore
- A big white G—Packers temporary tattoo—on my cheek. Just like my mom and sister.
- A green and gold pom-pom that my sister wedged carefully between some layers near my shoulder/neck area. I was so bundled up I couldn’t feel it and forgot it was there. But after halftime I elbowed my way back to my seat (actually, confession: I didn’t want to miss a second of the third quarter, so I was being pretty pushy). A few minutes after I got settled back in the stands, a man in blaze orange showed up on the steps at the end of my row waving a green and gold pom-pom at me. “Excuse me, miss? You dropped this back there.” As my sister said: Only. At. Lambeau.
- Eight 50-ml bottles of Buttershots, Bailey’s, and cake-flavored vodka—purchased at Dick’s Liquor store in River Falls after the attendant, who was also planning to go to the Packers game the next day, told me there was going to be free hot chocolate at Lambeau. I wedged them into the folds of my mukluks, and then, boy, did I feel badass. (Make that, we all did—my mom and my sister also smuggled some in.)
- Pride. I also wore pride. It’s a fierce, unwavering pride in the tradition and history and culture evoked by that one place and that one team. It’s a pride at once so irrational it’s hard to believe and yet so simple it can’t possibly be foolish—a pride in a tradition of my home and in the people of that tradition, the people of my home.
So that’s what I wore. In the end, the Packers lost. But I’m actually not too sad about it. The absence of a victory lets me treasure all the other stuff more: the fact that I didn’t spend a second of the game feeling cold (layers for the win!), the cheese curds and beer cheese burger at Curley’s pub, the day of fun with my mom and my sister and images of Aaron Rodgers’s face in various shapes and sizes. I treasure all that Sunday simply was, game aside.
And anyway, even if we’re out of the playoffs this year, the Packers are still, and will always be, the team that invented victory. (If it’s a Lombardi Trophy you yearn for, you can’t disagree.)