First Day at the Beach, 2009

After a long week of rain and gloom in an office devoid of co-workers, the skies parted this morning, full of hope and the promise of a high temps in the 70s. Stephen suggested a visit to Plum Island, about an hour away on the north shore.

We saw a few brave souls swimming there, but most visitors enjoyed the beach as we did: by reading and napping on a narrow strip of sun-warmed sand. Stephen tried to even out his farmer's tan. I wore SPF 55.

The waves were noisy enough to drown out all other noises, so it felt secluded and calm there despite the men fishing a few yards away, and the children wading beyond them. The combination of the roaring waves and the bleaching sun and the astringent breeze always makes me feel scrubbed clean after a day like this--exfoliated in soul as well as body, and exhausted, and ready for ice cream.

The marshy interior of the beach was cordoned off for plover and tern nesting season, which began on April 1. We skirted the nesting grounds on our way back to the car, and saw dozens of fat little birds running back and forth between the matted reeds, so I guess the conservation program is working. I love watching those tiny, earnest shore birds dash about, like pint-sized teapots balancing on toothpicks. They're so darn cute. Just look at this thing and tell me if you don't agree.



In these late days of spring, by turns breezy and sodden, I've established two work-day uniforms. If the forecast calls for high temperatures near the 70s, I wear a light sweater, a cotton skirt and opaque tights with clogs. If the forecast is cooler, it's corduroys, a cardigan, a linen scarf and my ubiquitous yellow hoodie. I don't know when I became such a corduroy fanatic, but I've got 6 pairs and have worn them so much this year that the wale has started to wear away around the knees.

Luckily, I found a couple of new pairs on deep discount recently (one for $15, the other free) with which to restock. They were both several inches too long, though, so I took them to the tailor to get hemmed. I don't mind doing simple alterations on my own, like adding darts or stitching up pockets, but I didn't relish the thought of handstitching through three layers of corduroy around four pant cuffs.

The only other time I've had a garment professionally altered was when I got my prom dress fitted in eleventh grade, so I had the odd sensation as I walked into the shop this week that I ought to have my mother with me. The transaction was altogether less dramatic than I remember the dress-fitting being. The tailor didn't make me put the pants on and stand on a platform in front of a 180-degree mirror or anything. I just dropped off a sample pair and asked her to match the inseams. Piece of cake.

Now that I've gotten them all fixed up, you'd think I would be inclined to hang these pairs in my closet to keep out wrinkles and preserve their crisp center creases, but I'm all hanger-ed out right now.

Each May, the recycling coordinator at work collects all kinds of stuff left behind by students moving out of their dorms. Charities take most of the home goods, and she sells the clothes to second-hand stores, but no one wants the hangers. Even returning students would rather buy new ones than sort through the huge tangle of old ones to find a matched set.

I can't bear to see them get tossed, though, so I've decided to sort through them all this summer, grouping by size, shape, and color, and bundle them into packs of 10. You wouldn't believe how many different kinds of hangers there are. Wooden, plastic, wire; white, black, jewel-toned, pastel, neon, opaque, translucent and iridescent; powder-coated, flocked, foam-padded, cardboard-covered; some with hooks and clips, and a lot of these chunky ones from Ikea. I've sorted through about a thousand so far, with three garbage bags' worth left to go, and the seniors and grad students haven't even moved out yet. In the fall, we'll give them away for free on move-in day. It's a good promotion for our office and for the general greening efforts at the university, and I hope it will help people reuse rather than re-buy. In the meantime, it's giving my brain a nice vacation until classes begin again in June.