Umbrella

It rained hard the other day. We live in the high desert, at the bottom of a canyon with a road that takes us back and forth to work through the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. It doesn’t rain much here, so unlike in Portland, where the constant drizzle can be soul sucking, here I enjoy the rain. This one was a lot of water in a short time, though. We were fortunate to be home and not have to travel. All of the water that lands on the dry hills around the canyon has nowhere to go, nowhere to seep in, and so it came pouring down the canyon and rushed through our neighborhood, like if you were to hold a funnel up at the edge of a Lego city and dump water into it. In about five minutes time the street in front of our house was six to eight inches deep of racing water. If it had rained that hard for an hour I can’t imagine what would have happened. It is sobering to think about, with the flash floods that just happened in Texas.

Being adventurous, I had to venture outside to take a look, so I grabbed up one of our forgotten umbrellas that has probably never left the coat rack before and out I went. I wandered up to the edge of the river that used to be our street, and dipped a toe in, and said a prayer for all the poor animals that had to be out in that torrent. I waved at the neighbor who was driving home on the street with the wake flying up past his truck topper. We could have waterskied behind that thing. Then I went back into my cozy house, with my cozy wife, and my cozy dogs, and we listened to the sound of the rain. Kim recorded my journey on the camera.

Later I watched the footage, and I noticed something. Now, I do not have good posture. I tend to slump, I think it’s a James Dean sort of thing, but my mother would say “stand up straight!” I have always been a little sensitive about the way I walk and the way I stand. I was watching that video, and I said to myself, I don’t need to worry about that anymore. My posture was perfect. It took me a minute to realize why. It was because of the umbrella. You can’t go out in a rainstorm with an umbrella and not stand up perfectly straight. I think it’s why ladies used to carry parasols, and why umbrellas became fashionable. They force a person to stand up straight. I don’t know exactly what the symbolism is there. Maybe a little rain makes for better posture. Maybe a little difficulty makes for better action. Maybe I should start carrying around an umbrella all the time.

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