||[Jan. 6th, 2005|10:28 pm]
My umbrella is living through its fourth Cleveland winter. This is an impressive accomplishment, because I am not the sort of person who leaves her umbrella at home or does without. No, I use my umbrella. It's impressive because Cleveland, being on the edge of a Great Lake, has lots and lots of lake effect wind. Kind of like Chicago, only we were clearly further back in line for city nicknames, because The Windy City* is a lot cooler than The Mistake by the Lake.
Anyway, umbrellas are notoriously short-lived in Cleveland. On a regular basis you see people struggling with an umbrella that has popped, and the spindly remains of spoiled bumbershooots stick out of city trash cans every time the wind whips up. Because no matter how diligently you hold your umbrella into the wind, you inevitably come around a corner where the wind direction changes and - POP! - your buffering arc of fabric is a cone on the end of a metal stick, good only for poking passersby until you can find a rubbish bin to stuff it in.
So three full years of Cleveland weather are pretty damned impressive. But I may have to retire it soon. Despite my assiduous efforts - studying the wind patterns of people ahead of me on the sidewalk so that I may re-angle my sail at each corner, holding onto a rib with one hand to reinforce it - my umbrella has taken a beating. The sheer force of wind crashing against it has bent or even snapped many of its ribs. One dangles directly overhead, tapping me on the scalp. It used to open with a crisp, satisfying crackle; now the many ribs and hinges groan into place, occasionally requiring a helping hand.
When I fold it, it's rather like gather up the legs of a nest of baby storks.
I know it's only a matter of time. One of the ribs will completely snap, and it will join that great scrapheap of spindly skeletons. But I can't quite give up on it yet.
*Yes, I know it was not dubbed the Windy City because of the wind but because of long-winded politicians. But since no one remembers that anymore, the wind is a perfectly good reason for the nickname to persist.