Coastal contrast & good sweaters


Baltimore is not one of the most beautiful cities, but my excellent friend Laura lives on one of its prettiest streets. After landing here today, I feel stronger already. There is something about the East Coast that hits me just right, while there’s something about the West Coast which — for all its wonders; don’t get me wrong! — is definitely draining.

It’s funny because the oceans make me feel quite the opposite poles of attraction, as a mariner. I find the Atlantic stodgy, sullen, and dull, compared to the lively, lovely, delightful Pacific. The Atlantic won’t play, but it will hand you your butt on a platter; the Pacific will play, anytime, anywhere, but will sometimes forget to sheath its claws and consequently breaks its “toys.”

In either case, obviously, it pays to heed NOAA’s weather data: http://www.weather.gov/. Their predictions are about as good as mine (huff on nails, polish against lapels) though lately they’ve been consistently lowballing SF Bay winds. Not my problem right now …

Note for airline travellers: Jet Blue really does have tons more legroom, but their seats still don’t go back any further; and those squashy silicone earplugs did a pretty good job of handling the screaming baby in the seat right behind me.

I’ve learned that a cashmere sweater right next to the skin is excellent travel wear. It goes from overheated lounges to underheated cabins without a chill, and my whole system is terribly sensitive to temperature changes so this is a joy.

My excellent friend Jeannie gave me a cashmere sweater a couple years ago, just as my autonomia was making chills a real problem, and it opened up a whole new sensory world to me.

I got all my cashmere and merino sweaters after that from the Oakland Goodwill & Salvation Army stores for about 5 bucks each. I got them really big, in men’s sizes, then washed them in the washer — hand washing is an absurdity these days. I shake them out and hang them to dry, which they do quickly (unlike most wool.)

My sweaters have gently condensed to luscious, dense layers of incredible softness that never look wrong. Though my skin is hypersensitive to drafts and temperature, and though I used to find _any_ wool itchy and bothersome, nowadays these sweaters are bliss.

Good wool breathes like an opera singer, while it guards me from those brutal chills, and no matter how tense I get, it never holds my smell.

Yup. Perfect for traveling.

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