IMAGE: ADMIRAL (2008)
What I miss most living in Florida, is fur. A Florida winter doesn’t allow us to put our bathing suits away even during the “R” months, beaches are still packed and the eye of heaven shines at 85 degrees— even in December.
But when thinking of more proper winters, I think of fur. It’s one of those natural commodities of which even the most exquisite man-made replica falls far from comparable. The silky delicate strands of varying hues of brown, black, auburn, or beige are lustrous to the eye and delightful to the touch. Being wrapped in fur, in the midst of a blizzard is comforting, like having a second skin.
One of my most memorable encounters with fur was during my toddler years. We lived in Ukraine and had a couple of spare bedrooms upstairs. My mom stored her winter stuff in one of the extra closets. No one really went up there, but once in a while, I snuck up to explore.
This day, I find myself in the closet. The lights are out of my reach so I fumble around in the dark. I feel my way through the closet when suddenly I feel something. The thing sends cold chills down my spine. It feels alive. I peer through the shadows, our eyes meet— I scream and dart out of the closet screaming something about wild animals at the tip of my five-year-old lungs.
My mom runs upstairs, more frightened than I. Tongue twisted and in disarray, I try to explain that there is a wild beast inside of the closet. She’s confused because the only animal we ever had was the guard dog, on a chaint— outside. The dog never set paw into the house, he was mean. He bit anyone who trespassed him, he was a genuine, barking-slobbering, guard dog and the presence of any other beast inside of the house was unlikey.
My mom starts asking things, I just point to the closet. She steps in, turns on the lights.
Cautiously, I follow.
She looks around. Spots the wild beast and begins to laugh. The terror who frightened me is neatly hanging from a hanger. My mom’s fox collar. Fox collars with the head still intact were the thing back then and she had the beautiful Russian fox sandwiched between other coats with it head landing directly at my eye level.
I don’t know where the fox is now, but my encounter is ever with me. That is still how I feel about fur, frightened, but enamored. I mean the thing came from an animal and all the controversy surrounding that is a little frightening, but the beauty and texture are captivating.
These days, fur causes all sorts of commotion amid humanitarians, but it wasn’t about animal cruelty for us, it was about staying warm in the winter. Ukrainian winters are no joke and that’s what we wore, that’s what everyone wore since the beginning of time. I know the whole animal cruelty thing can get brutal, but all of the politics aside, still— I’d rather wear fur.