Hair, hats and shade

Allen is having hair issues. Obviously, there’s no barber shop where we are, and he hasn’t had a haircut since we left Seattle over two months ago. His barber probably misses him! Anyway, he’s looking a little shaggy — and unlike me, he finds the crumpled look a little disquieting. I keep telling him that there’s no one here to impress other than lots of birds. And as it gets longer, he’ll be able to pull his hair back into a ponytail like I am already doing (having not had a preemptive haircut before coming down here.) That doesn’t console him a whole lot. He says he has no intention of going home looking like a better-fed version of one of Ernest Shackleton’s men.

He’s not much of a hat person either. Alene and I both love hats — and there’s not much of the year when we feel OK to leave the house hatless in Seattle. From October through April, you need a hat to keep the rain off. And it also helps to wear a coat with a hood that can be snugged up over the hat to keep the wind from blowing it away. On sunny summer days, you need a hat to keep the sun off, especially during the high-sun season around the solstice. As a former sun-worshipper who has sunned himself the world over, I still can’t believe how strong Seattle sunshine can be at the end of June, when I’ve had some of my worst sunburns — and as I have a receded hairline, I have to wear a hat to protect my head.

Allen still has a full head of hair (the bastard!) and he’s rather vain with it — so unless the occasion calls for his beloved Stetson, he considers it a travesty to hide his hair. He’s especially particular with the right side of his head (from his perspective.) Most of us joke about having a “best side”, but he means it in all seriousness. When you drive a bus, your right side is the one the passengers see as they board — so it needs to make a good impression. (He likes to think women swoon as they get on his bus!!)

Allen and I were enjoying some winter sunshine today in advance of some rainy/snowy weather we’re expecting over the next few days. But Alene was out and about in one of those high-sun summer Seattle days — although she was thankful it wasn’t too hot — as long as you didn’t stay in one spot too long!

On her way home, she passed a park where a wedding ceremony was just getting underway. The guests were seated on folding chairs, and the bridesmaids and groomsmen were gathered to start marching down the aisle. Now, if you’re planning an outside wedding for the last weekend in May in Seattle, your main weather worry is obviously going to be rain, as Seattle is really not out of the woods as far as rain is concerned until after July fourth. But when the day arrives and turns out to be dazzlingly sunny, you have to wonder why the organizers don’t set up the chairs in one of shady spots. The guests were seated in the direct early afternoon sun — just a few yards away from the shade of a huge tree that would have been a far more comfortable spot.

Alki Beach Park in West Seattle is hugely popular on summer days — but there’s hardly any shade to be found its entire length. Anywhere a tree, shrub, sculpture, or lamppost even, casts a shadow on the ground, you’ll find someone sitting in it. Serious beachgoers, intent on staying all day, take canopy tents to shelter under, but the glare of the sun is hard to escape — what with the water, the sand, and the reflective surfaces of all the cars, both parked and stuck in traffic.

A common sight on Saturday afternoons at this time of the year is part of a wedding party (usually the bride, maid of honor and bridesmaids) flocking into a Starbucks for iced lattes. We suspect it’s less about needing a caffeine fix and more about getting into a cool, shady place after baking in the bright sunshine in tight, uncomfortable dresses.


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