Consider the towel.
The late Douglas Adams, in his comic sci-fi masterpiece, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, had this to say about the cosmic importance of the towel:
"A towel ... is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value - you can wrap it round you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to- hand-combat; wrap it round
your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough."
I haven't seen any Ravenous Bugblatter Beasts of Traal on this island, but I agree as to the extreme usefulness of a towel here, specifically the beach towel.
- It is a lighter-to-carry and simpler replacement for a beach chair, easy to stuff into your bag and leaving a hand free for a cooler of drinks.
- In the house, folded, it can be a chair cushion or booster seat when I want to type at the kitchen table.
- Because its weight is somewhere between those of a sheet and a blanket, it's a great cover for a windy night.
- It's a pillow for a rope hammock.
- It's a modest pareo for a walk back from the beach.
- Towels work better than mops in a driving rain that finds every weakness in the window caulking. During Hurricane Irene, we simply kept one rolled up on each sill and at each door, and periodically walked around to wring them out. Much easier than mopping!
- Older towels can be used as drop cloths or to turn furniture into a workspace. In fact, a beach towel that was part of a wedding gift 32 years ago is still in service here!
- And, of course, you can use one to dry off at the beach.
Here at Aloe House, I currently have seven "good" beach towels and five "scrub" ones. They all get used. There are two more at Aloe House North for the pool and picnics. With 14 beach towels, I'm ready for anything. Even interstellar travel.