Last year the snow on our street never was cleared off. It would melt a little during a sunny day and then refreeze overnight so that even on those (rare) occasions when it was sanded, the sand just got captured under a layer of ice.

Even my neighbor (who comes from Minnesota and spent some time in Wisconsin recently and so is comparatively unperturbed by icy streets and such) who used to drive me home, finally got to the point where even he wouldn't turn his Beetle into my street - it sort of goes straight down and then straight up. So I'd get out at the top and walk down.

One night I got about two houses into the block and I got stuck. Walking, you understand. I couldn't go back and I couldn't go forward. If my neighbor hadn't come out to put out his garbage I probably would have stayed there until the spring thaw.

The point is that I didn't have a hat and my head was some kind of cold. And it was really dumb, because the hat is so easy to crochet and takes so little time. I made one that night in about an hour and then made another for my husband.You still have time to make dozens in all colors and sizes before Christmas and, if you like, scores by the end of the winter. Use any size yarn and hooks (fine yarn and smaller hooks, of course). Mix colors, use scraps, stuff one in a pocket of every coat you own and when you get stuck in the ice at least your head will be warm.

Make a chain that reaches from the middle of the top of your head to about two inches below your ear. Double-crochet across. Ch. 3 for turning ch. and double-crochet IN BACK LOOP ONLY across. Repeat (counting often to make sure your edges don't get wavy) until the piece - folded in half lengthwise (the stripes will be horizontal when you fold, vertical when worn) - will slip over your head - 20 to 22 inches, or so, less for a child, more for a man. Sew the first row to the last row, forming a cylinder. Wheage yarn through one open end and draw tightly. Fold up cuff on the other end and there you have it. (Even better, roll the cuff tightly and voila it's this year's ever-so-chic Paris cap.)

With a J plastic or aluminum hook and knitting worsted, a hat for a medium-sized adult head takes about two ounces of yarn. For a really warm cossack-style hat use two strands of mohair or brushed acrylic.

For children add a big pompon at the top or several dangling from chains.

And don't get stuck on the ice.