One of the more pleasant aspects of life at the beach is the long established and widely accepted custom of casual clothing anywhere anytime. Even the better restaurants are filled with diners in shorts, T-shirts and flip flops—what passes as dressing up for dinner—and many of the people seen walking down the street are in something more casual: a swim suit, maybe a faded and well-worn shirt over it. With all the sand and warm sun typical of a beachtown, leather shoes, dress shirts and ties are definitely out of place.
From my first day here, shorts, T-shirt and a pair of Crocs became a uniform. Give me a chest of drawers with three pairs of shorts, a pair of jeans, a drawer full of T-shirts and another with underwear and I need little else, maybe a baseball cap. Sure, the colder months call for a sweater, a pullover or two and maybe a jacket, but even in chillier times shorts will usually do the trick. As for socks, I’ve forgotten what they feel like, and in the shoe department a pair of Reeboks and the Crocs fill the bill just fine. On rare occasion when I feel the need to be a little less casual, I replace the shorts with a pair of jeans and the T-shirt with a polo shirt, but at the bottom I am still sockless.
I’m going to miss all that.
The day I decided on moving to the house in the country I realized it would call for a few new items of clothing, something casual but in a different direction. Shorts may be fine inside, but outside is a place where long pants, socks and high top leather shoes bring more peace of mind—peace of mind in the arena of safety. In Oak Hill you don’t want to step on anything in bare feet or brush up against unfamiliar foliage with bare legs. And rather than a baseball cap, a wide-brimmed hat will do more to stop the hairy caterpillars from dropping down a shirt. Though I’ve always disliked them, gloves for working in the yard might also be a good idea.
Walking over the acre of property with the realtor a couple of weeks back, he suggested, with a small adjustment to his Daniel Boone attire, that it was an area where having a gun in the house would be wise. I couldn’t imagine he was talking about crime in the form of robbers or kidnappers, and I looked at the ground around me with new eyes, expecting to see something slither under a log. For a moment my head was filled with the vision of me as a rugged pioneer uncovering a nest of rattlers in my garden at the edge of the woods. A moment later I told the realtor I had to leave, that I had an appointment at the gun shop.
It’s still a couple of weeks before I move out to the house in the country and I’m still enjoying my shorts, T-shirts and bare feet, but I have been to Sears for a pair of sturdy shoes and while there I thought maybe a Bowie knife would come in handy, something to hold between my teeth in a wrestling match with unwelcome critters. I’ve seen Animal Planet and the scenes of anacondas released in the swamps of Florida. I just want to be prepared.