Monday, April 13, 2009

Days of Yam

Weather is wardrobe. As a “fresh air fiend,” to steal a phrase from writer Paul Theroux, I have something in the closet for every condition - a fleece for all 40 kinds of Inuit snow, a layer for every 10-degree drop in temperature. I have jackets for every micro-season, shoes that I can wear in the ocean, shirts that repel insects and screen out the sun. Dig deeply enough and you’ll find something that wicks, something that reflects and something that can double as a tent in a pinch.

So with spring slow to warm, I content myself with the next wave of outdoor catalogs selling items I no longer need at prices I can no longer afford in language I no longer understand. I get them all: Patagonia, EMS, REI, L.L. Bean, Cadillac Mountain Sports. They speak in catalog-ese, which is a strange dialect of marketing that apparently means “this will cost you at least $200 more than it should.” Still. I can’t resist.

I mean, who doesn’t want to outfit themselves with a line of running shirts in “sharkskin,” “grasshopper” and “yam” (or gray, green and orange to the uneducated eye)? I look good in yam. I don’t have enough yam in my wardrobe. Fifty bucks for a yam shirt? Bargain.

Of course I need polyester gym wear with “antimicrobial treatment” that “manages perspiration with aplomb.” It would be nice to sweat with aplomb. Dripping with aplomb is so much more civilized than just plain stinking up the joint. And I’ll consider upgrading to running shorts that contain “an internal audio pocket.” I’m guessing it’s a place to put your iPod. Otherwise, maybe I don’t want noises coming from my pocket. Or I could go with the shorts that have “an integrated moisture wicking brief,” even though that sounds like a lot of stuff going on down there.

Anyway, it turns out that the next running shoes I buy will have “gusseted tongues.” And also “medial posts.” I’m not sure what these are, but until I do, I’m going to stay away from the sweatpants that come with a “gusseted crotch.”

How would you describe Rhode Island in catalog prose?

Trying Rhody on for size
It has been a while since we’ve spotted a good “size of Rhode Island” reference, but here’s one from the archives of Green Perspectives, the blog of The New York Botanical Garden. It was posted on March 25 under the heading, “Adding Rooftop Habitat the Size of Rhode Island”:

Steven Peck, the founder of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, a green roof industry association, estimates that 5-10 percent of all existing buildings in most American cities could support a green roof. Let’s be conservative, then, and settle for a potential expanse of green roofs in the United States totaling, say, 10 billion square feet. That’s approximately 1,800 square miles, an area somewhat larger than the state of Rhode Island.