In Search of Summer
After a life spent near the ocean and in love with summer, Janet E. Spurr '76 has written her first book, Beach Chair Diaries: Summer Tales from Maine to Maui. The 172-page book is a light and breezy account of her search for summer's simple pleasures: fresh lobster dipped in butter, creamy home-made ice cream by the quart, and long, lazy days spent at the nation's most beautiful beaches.
In the book's introduction, Spurr reveals that she hopes to take readers along with her to the beach to ride the waves or wile away the hours in her George Clooney Take Me beach chair. The beach is one of the few places left in the world where time seems to slow down, she writes. We all have insane schedules. Our lives have become enormously complicated as we stare at clocks and computers. At the beach, while free of distractions, I feel I can finally relax. She dedicates the book to fellow beach lovers who lust for it, miss it, and need to feel the beach throughout the year," and hopes it will fuel an endless summer imagination.
Spurr studied business, then called secretarial, at Colby-Sawyer and continued to live in nearby Massachusetts, including on Nantucket Island and, currently, in a North Shore community inhabited by at least 60 other alumni. She is now employed as a manufacturer's representative, selling women's accessories to stores around New England. In 1992, Spurr began to pursue writing, another of her passions, by attending courses at the Harvard Extension School and the Maui Writers Conference. Her essay on body surfing, Finding the Perfect Wave, was selected from more than 1,000 entries and published by the Harvard Extension, and also appears in Beach Chair Diaries. She has published several other pieces in North of Boston Magazine, the Newport Independent and the Light Network.
With support from fellow writers and mentors at the Maui Writers Conference, she began her first book, planning to write about summer fun and the inspiration of nature. In the process, she says a deeper message emerged: Believe in your dreams and trust your passions. Her desire to convey her passion for summer helped her to realize her dream of becoming an author.
On the book's Web site, Spurr is described as the quintessential Beach Queen who has surfed, boogie-boarded, snorkeled, kayaked, and sailboat-raced 14 summers against the Kennedys, from Antigua to Newport, Rhode Island; white-water rafted the Kennebec River; and swam in seven of the top ten beaches in the U.S. Yet her diary portrays her as not exactly a world-class athlete, but rather, as a determined and fun-loving 50-something woman who plays practical jokes on friends, brings 12 pairs of shoes on a 10-day vacation, and is always willing, though not necessarily well prepared for, adventures on the open seas.
With her informal and accessible writing style, Spurr emerges as the person who's likely to be the funniest, sunniest person at the party. She laughs at herself when she fails (as when she nearly sinks her friends in her ill-fated inflatable boat or turns down a free surfing lesson from a bronzed Hawaiian god, and celebrates her triumphs (like when she returns to Maui, finds the god and accepts his free lesson).
With Beach Chair Diaries, Spurr delivers on her promise to whisk her readers off to the seaside to breathe in the salt air and catch a few waves. And traveling with this amiable Beach Queen makes for a relaxing and amusing adventure.
Beach Chair Diaries: Summer Tales from Maine to Maui is available online at Barnes & Noble, Morgan Hill Bookstore in New London, N.H., and Dartmouth Coop in Hanover, N.H.