Under the Umbrella

In Vancouver we’ve had a pretty warm summer, with minimal rain. But the past few weeks saw a return to the Vancouver we’re used to: those gloomy, cloudy days, and those days that drop and drop with water. I don’t mind it too much though, ‘cause I guess I’m pretty much used to the wetness. The sound of the rain really helps me sleep at night and I especially like the sharp dings and plops of the water drops hitting my umbrella—when it rains really hard, that’s about the only sound you can hear, so it becomes a kind of silence almost, drowning out the noise of the traffic, and trains. It would feel like a meditation if your feet weren’t completely wet.

I lose a lot of things, namely earrings and umbrellas. A while ago I misplaced (?), dropped (?), or left (?) my black folding umbrella somewhere, and have been making do with the long, red, hooked umbrella, which is a perfectly wonderful umbrella, except on crowded skytrains, where you’re liable to poke innocent sitting someone in the head with the sharp pointy bit.

So a couple of weeks ago we visited the Vancouver Art Gallery (right now it's North American Landscapes, and a very interesting photography installation by local artist Owen Kydd), and I got this wonderful looking umbrella at the gift shop. It’s pretty neat, because the umbrella comes with its own pouch that can be turned into a shopping bag, and the umbrella pouch has a side zipper opening, which is so much more convenient than the vertical slip-on ones. The company is possum, and is the brain child of local designer Estella Lum. Umbrellas are her new thing, but she’s been selling her beautifully graphic and colourful bags that can be folded into the wallet-sized pouch for a while now. The umbrella sells for $40, and it’s pretty rockin’. It is a bright and cheerful bird print, and the waterproof material feels much thicker than any other umbrella I’ve had, with real solid spines.

Speaking of umbrellas, one of my favourite umbrellas EVER is one from MOMA, designed by Timor Kalman in 1992 called Sky Umbrella. On the outside, the object is just a stern-looking black umbrella with a curved wooden handle, but oh!, when you open it up, suddenly you’re under bright blue sky with gentle white clouds. It’s awesome, and very Magritte-like. We actually bought this as a birthday gift to one of our friends, and I hope he liked it as much as I do.

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