Riddle me this?

What is white and fluffy like a cloud and then flat and splat? Answer: most down pillows. Whenever I go on trips the first thing I check out beside the mini bar of course is the hotel’s pillows. Why? Because finding the Right pillow is the holy grail of sleep. It’s no wonder as a nation we have trouble sleeping. Whether you have a good or great mattress the pillow does the real work of getting us into slumber quicker. Did you know that the first people to use pillows where the Mesopotamians around 7,000 BC? Yes according to Wikipedia – only wealthy people owned and used them. The others slept on the floor or used wooden, porcelain and stone pediments to keep their heads aloft.

“The Romans and Greeks of ancient Europe mastered the softer pillow: these were stuffed with reeds, feathers, and straw and were were also brought to church in order to kneel while praying.” In ancient China porcelain pillows were the standard, but by 1911 better softer materials emerged. Straw was the first filler and in Asia buckwheat is a common filler to this day. Pillows today are often made from foam, synthetic fibers, and latex. Goose down and or down feathers are considered top of the line and their prices reflect this. But some people are allergic to feathers and to this end there are hypoallergenic varieties of down pillows.

Pillows come in soft, medium, and hard varieties. But when going to a big box retailer I pick several varieties to test. I take them over to the bedding displays and look foolish trying to find the right support- fluffy and crisp yet soft and pliant. But after several weeks I am fluffing and scrunching and beating them back into shape. Putting them in the dryer works for while but they say if you can fold a pillow its time to replace it. And so I have over and over again….until I discovered that my favorite pillows  and bedding can now be purchased at some hotels. Marriott, Sofitel, the Hampton Inn, and the W hotels sell their “cloud” like versions on line: they start at $80 for the queen size feather and goose down and $90 for the king size.

Marriott also sell down alternative pillows in feather free rooms. These eco-friendly pillows are made from recycled plastic bottles – and though I have never tried them – it’s good to know that you have a choice to sneeze or not to sneeze while sleeping.

Well to borrow from Joni Michell’s  song: “I’ve looked at pillows from both sides now” and even now…I really don’t know pillows at all- they always let me down, pun intended .Yes, pillows and life should be like clouds as Joni sings in Both Sides Now….”It’s clouds/pillows illusions I recall”….but that downy softness is only fleeting….like clouds and life I really don’t know pillows at all.


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