ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY:   The glories of a sarong

© Another Day in the Country

Forty years ago I purchased my first sarong. I was in Mexico, deep in its interior, not just flirting around the edges of Tijuana, when I spied these lovely, vibrant colored strips of cloth. I bought one for less than $10 and wondered if I’d really ever use it; but it was so beautiful, I couldn’t resist. That began my love affair with a sarong.

If you’ve never owned one, you are missing out on one of the joys of life. Especially after we came to Kansas and all this heat, summer time meant that I just lived in a sarong. They are comfortable and cool and who needs all that underwear and underwire when it’s sweltering? Take another shower and tie on a sarong!

They are just a long piece of fabric — just a minute, I’ll measure the one I have on — about 42 by 70 inches (counting the fringe) and usually made of rayon. Sometimes, they are sold as swimsuit cover-ups — those are usually skimpier. Sometimes, you’ll find sarongs are longer, wider, made of cotton instead of rayon. Always, you’ll discover they are the most useful thing you own — if you give them a chance.

You can use a sarong as a dress, any number of ways — depending upon how you tie it. My way is to wrap it around my body, under my arms, grab one end and tie it about 18 inches from the other end in a knot on my chest and then pull that extra 18 inches of material across the front, bring it up through the top and pull smooth, then flap the edge over to secure it. Clear as mud? Trust me, it’s easier than it sounds and really quite tidy. I don’t run to the grocery store in this garb, but I can mow the lawn. A sarong, as a dress, is really an around-the-house or at-the-beach kind of garb.

Out in public, though, a sarong can be a long skirt. Put on a matching top and just tie the cloth around your waist, using the same technique to wrap, tie, tuck and secure. Some are quite elegant. I’ve worn a black sarong of mine on a formal occasion and fit right in with the fancy crowd.

Use your sarong as a shawl over your shoulders. They are really quite warm. I always carry a sarong in the bottom of my purse when I’m going somewhere — they fold up small — just in case it gets chilly. Yes, I know, we haven’t been suffering from chilly weather here in Kansas, yet; but when I was in northern California this summer, my sarong came in mighty handy.

Whenever I travel, I take a sarong with me … except in May when I was rushing out to California to be with Jana after her accident. Somehow, I didn’t grab a sarong. One of my first errands after landing at SFO was to stop in Napa at my favorite “sarong shop” and get a new one. Now they can cost as much as $20, but they are well worth it.

On an airplane, or anywhere for that matter, a sarong makes a great blanket. It’s light weight, big enough to cover you up, and amazingly cozy.

On our way to Santa Fe a couple of weeks ago, we stopped in a tiny dusty southern Kansas town to have our picnic lunch in their park. It reminded us of when we were children and Mom and Dad would get out the cooler and fix lunch when we traveled. We never went to restaurants and I don’t think fast food had been invented, yet. The park was neat but the picnic table wasn’t immaculate so I just got out my sarong and we used it as a table cloth. Worked perfectly.

Let’s see, have I forgotten any of the sarong’s multiple uses? Dress, skirt, shawl, blanket, table cloth: Aha! Use it as a ground cloth anywhere you want to sit down. Lighter than a blanket, easy to wash and easy to carry, just use your sarong. It can also protect you from rain. Slip a sarong over your shoulders and hold it over your head, if it’s raining. They are easier to carry than an umbrella. I’ve even used a sarong to make a tent for my grandson, holding it in place with clothespins.

With all this hoop-la about a simple sarong, I should be selling them somewhere. Not sure where you can find one in Marion County but if you venture near any little shop that carries incense and cheap jewelry imported from Ghana or Indonesia, they’ll probably carry sarongs.

It’s another day in the country and I know that the Kansas uniform is jeans and overalls, but just maybe you might want to try a sarong, ladies. And for the men who might be reading, they make a great gift for your wife!

I found another use on Friday night when I went to the Salina races — to protect you from flying mud!

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