Under My Umbrella

yellow umbrella

So many choices, so long a winter

That’s right.  Someone got that song back into my head last week after I spent three years getting it out, so I thought I’d spread the joy.


I am fortunate enough to live in the small corner of Canada that was not created by some ancient vengeful weather god to separate those who are tough from those who are grizzly kibble.  Vancouver is what people optimistically term “temperate.”  We have a lovely summer, which is warm and sunny and pleasant.  On a good year, summer will last eight weeks.  We also have a rainy season, which lasts for the rest of the year.  And I believe that as of today, my friends, rainy season is upon us.

Now, there are a lot of great things about the rain.  It makes everything green, it puts out the forest fires of summer, it provides water.  There’s that smell it makes when combined with pavement.  There’s that feeling of smugness you get when you’re inside and it’s outside.  There are those rubber boots that seem to become more snazzy every year.  There is that rediscovered appetite for porridge and soup.

And there is that endless fashion show of umbrellas.

In the past, I never gave umbrellas much thought except when I got caught without.  But since I’ve moved here, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for good umbrellas.  I will nod approvingly at an attractive one, shake my head pityingly at a flimsy one, and experience a tangled mix of jealously and indignation over a large one.  (Golf umbrellas are awesome, but only the most obliviously obnoxious carry them in the city.)  In the summer, I check out people’s shoes.  The rest of the year, I check out their umbrellas.

Myself, I am always on the search for the perfect umbrella.  Colour is a factor, yes.  Of course there’s always classic black, which will never cease to be stylish, but when combined with the grey of the skies, it gets a bit gloomy after a while.  Also, most people have black, so if you lose your black umbrella you can assume it has become public property and you will never see it again.  Other solids have the advantage of keeping that conservative aura while giving a pop of colour.  Prints can be done to good effect, but must be approached with caution as the line between unique and gaudy is often a fine one.

I read an article a few years back that talked about what your umbrella colour said about you.  At the time, mine was pink, which apparently meant, “Look at me and my beautiful life.”  So apparently, as well as what appeals to your sense of personal taste, you might also want to consider the message you are sending with the colour of your umbrella.

Consideration of size, shape and functionality also comes into play.  Too small an umbrella and you will only keep a small portion of your hair dry.  Too large and you will be poking out eyes, knocking over other umbrellas, and just generally making a nuisance of yourself.  And do you like a small umbrella that will fit easily in your purse or pocket?  Or a large one that will hold its shape in a storm and can double as a weapon in a pinch?  (I have seen ads for classes in how to defend yourself with your umbrella or cane.  Awesome.)  Do you want a straight handle for its space-saving capabilities?  Or a hook handle that has more storage options?  Is it important to you to have a button for automatic opening?  Or the less common automatic collapsing?

Me, I’m a relatively recent convert to the cane umbrella with hook handle.  My current model is burgundy and has an automatic open button.  I’ve had it for over a year and it has done me well.  But I’ve been eyeing an overpriced lavender satin-sheen with black lace number downtown for a while now.  What that would say about me, who knows.  But maybe I should find out.

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