Tag Archives: Rain

Umbrella Magic

Image by Dr. Georg Wietschorke from Pixabay.

When I was a preschooler, my mother said umbrellas kept high-wire performers from falling. Would carrying an umbrella atop a swing set morph me into a lovely lady wearing a sparkling bathing suit? Then, perhaps, the world would see the magic me.

But the umbrella didn’t turn into a parachute. I fell like a rock.

Nevertheless, umbrellas continued to enthrall me. Why wouldn’t my mother buy them?

I understand now.

First, what five kids can do to a helpless umbrella staggers the imagination. When my mother gave in and bought one, all umbrellas in the store bowed in a moment of silence. During initial roughhousing, someone raised the newcomer inside the station wagon, resulting in broken ribs.

Sometimes, a lucky umbrella survived and took refuge in the front closet, buried among mittens, hats and boots. If not so fortunate, it found itself in a fencing match with a broom, both wielded by little brothers.

Occasionally, a foolhardy umbrella permitted itself to be discovered. It faced more fencing matches at the bus stop and a school bus ride among 40 passengers intent on poking each others’ eyes out. However, after occupying a dusty corner of the lost-and-found, it eventually vanished into the Alternate Universe where half of all children’s possessions abide, never to be seen again.

As a preteen, I decided to purchase my own umbrella. Because awkward Jo March in Little Women found true love under the umbrella, I thought I might, too. But umbrellas cost three whole dollars. When a friend from Indianapolis offered to buy me one for only one dollar, I requested red with polka dots. Instead, she bought one covered with old-lady pink and yellow flowers. Mom made me smile, thank her, and pay her $1.25.

Still, it possessed a magic of its own. On rainy Saturday mornings, I ventured into our slumbering village, rendezvousing with imaginary loves who shared my umbrella and the rain’s gentle, percussive music.

When did the magic disappear? During college in Bloomington, Indiana, which boasts more rainfall than your average Amazon jungle. I often left my umbrellas in classrooms. Skipping lost-and-found, they entered the Alternate Universe, leaving me to empty my tiny bank account to buy another. I also shared elevators with 30,000 other umbrella-wielding students. My love affair with umbrellas might have ended forever — except that a special young man raised his below my dorm window to signal his approach. We have shared umbrellas for 45 years now. …

This chilly March day, as I again walk a college campus, umbrellas bloom like spring flowers, sheltering laughing, shivering students on their way to class.

Do they feel the magic, too?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you like rainy walks under an umbrella?

The Camping Commandments

I, like other clueless new spouses, signed my marriage license without reading the fine print. Later, I discovered I had promised to camp with my husband — for better, for worse — until lightning melted our tent poles or ravenous raccoons starved us out.

After decades of marriage, I now welcome campout vacations.

Or perhaps I’ve numbed to the point I think I like them.

Either way, I’ve learned the Camping Commandments:

  • If thou ownest an RV resembling a Trump hotel, wave pleasantly to those abiding in a bathroom-cabinet-sized tent. Similarly, tent dwellers should show friendliness to those in luxurious quarters. After all, we share the same pioneering blood — a fact well known to mosquitoes.   
  • Thou shalt not concoct gourmet meals whose tantalizing fragrances make thy neighboring cook’s peanut butter and jelly sandwiches appear inferior.
  • Designer clothes on a campout shall be considered illegal.
  • In the community restroom, thou shalt not hog the one working sink for three hours, perfecting thy mascara.
  • Always swat a bug that lands on a fellow camper — after introducing yourself first.
  • If thou art a Boy Scout who attained the Pyro Overachiever Badge, bless others with thy superior craft. However, if an ignorant fellow camper adds an uninvited log onto thy perfect blaze, do not toss him in after it.
  • If sharing a group meal around the campfire, thou shalt not bring up scary research facts about hot dogs.
  • Neither shalt thou yank blazing marshmallows out of the fire, lighting fellow roasters like birthday candles.
  • Thou shalt not spin in 60-mph circles on a tire swing after eating four triple-marshmallow s’mores. (My grandson can attest to this one.)
  • If rain ensues, and thou ownest the sole camper in thy group, thou shalt welcome all 47 muddy, smelly tent-dwellers — for a price.
  • When changing at night in a tent, stuff thy flashlight into thy shoe for lower illumination. Otherwise, thy silhouette will gather unwanted fans or frighten thy neighbors into hysterics.
  • Even a grandma cannot be expected to welcome a wildflower bouquet featuring poison ivy.
  • Finally, departing campers should always share excess firewood with neighbors. If their loud music kept thy family awake at 3 a.m., thou mayest bore holes in the logs and insert firecrackers first.

“Wait,” you say. “You’ve cited more than ten commandments. Do campers really need that many?”

“Absolutely. We campers are wild by nature. Actually, there are many more commandments than these.”

“More?”

“Go back and read the fine print.”

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What Camping Commandments would you include?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Yaaay, Mrs. Noah!

OMG, I’m done with torrential downpours and drizzly days! But You helped Mrs. Noah survive 40 days and nights of rain — plus cleaning up after a gazillion animals! Like her, I should believe Your rainbow promises. Though later, when their anniversary rolled around, I bet she and Noah didn’t take a cruise.

Rainy Day Activities for Grown-ups (Sort Of)

“No drought this year!” happy weather experts proclaim.

Thank you for informing us, as people bail out living rooms. Facebook whines and surly crowd mumbles at Walmart — my scientific tools for measuring demographic mood — have reached record levels.

So I share suggestions for coping with April showers until they produce May flowers and golfing hours.

  • Celebrate that nonstop rain = a power wash for house. And cars. And the lawn mower I forgot to put in the garage.
  • Instead of a rain dance, do a sun dance. Show your moves to bored kids and grandkids. They’ll either join in or run screaming, leaving you to dance — or nap — in peace.
  • Monitor the backyard battle. Marching dandelions take over my lawn. However, violets are mobilizing, too. Who will win? My neighbors are taking bets.
  • Clean the junk drawer—a penance that satisfies the pathological urge to accomplish “spring cleaning” without actually doing it.
  • Stick your nose outside to sniff the wet glory of earth and hyacinths.
  • Count cars racing through the rain — my nostalgic salute to inclement childhood days when I truly had nothing to do.
  • Reassure pansies. Mine won’t spend their entire lives in our garage. Soon I’ll send them, plus houseplants, outside and watch them party.
  • Try on summer clothes. If mine fit, I pat myself on the back. If not, I shop for a new wardrobe!
  • Listen to your parents’ music. Doing so recalls the rare privilege of sitting in the station wagon’s front seat while envious siblings elbowed each other in back. The radio poured out orchestra music led by David Rose, Henry Mancini and Percy Faith while raindrops raced down the windshield. Wipers, resembling long, thin Fred-Astaires clad in tails, bowed in sync.
  • Snuggly rainy days are the perfect backdrop for devouring an I-can’t-put-this-down book.
  • Throw a baseball inside the house. Someone will yell at you, and you’ll feel like you’re nine again.
  • Be daring. Watch an old movie, when good-night kisses were considered somewhat scandalous.
  • Find an intact umbrella and walk. Pass a house with Christmas decorations and feel smug because you put yours away last week.
  • Sing outside. Belt out “Singin’ in the Rain,” “I Love a Rainy Night,” or “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” — and watch traffic clear out.

Some hot, dry summers, I feel like a walking raisin. But this spring, I check my arms for sprouting mushrooms — one more thing to do on a rainy April day.

What’s your favorite rainy day activity?