Monday, December 1, 2008
Slow Sales Day
Sunday was about as inclement as could be asked for. Not just rain, but cold rain, and a little sleet mixed in for good measure. By noon time cabin fever was beginning to set in, and the troops looked to me for answers on how to best pass the day away...
Ok, how about lunch, and maybe get a little Christmas browsing out of the way..?
We struck north under a bleak sky, scaring up whatever wildlife got in our way.
The farther north we went, the more the sleet had accumulated. Steam rose from heaps of white-frosted mulch, at a roadside landscaper supply outlet.
A raw day, to be sure.
We stopped in at Hawley's restaurant in Belchertown where some good inexpensive family-cooked meals warmed us right up, and from there we headed towards Northampton for a little browsing. Even though it's officially shopping season, we arrived to find the streets unusually subdued, people-wise, under the chilling precipitation.
Before exiting the vehicle, I reached in the back for my trusty umbrella to shield us from the damp, and we set out. Only recently I've become a big fan of the good old umbrella. For a long time I considered them clumsy and old-fashioned. All the state of the art weather-repelling apparel and gear that's become such a big market must have helped stifle demand for the venerable umbrella. The new high tech outer wear they come up with every year does work pretty well, but at such a cost. Snag one of those expensive jackets on a pricker bush, or a car door, and the rest of your day has suddenly lost it's magic. And what about making a quick run to the store for milk without suiting up for a major expedition? There must be a better (cheaper) way.
I began buying those small inexpensive mini-umbrellas in case I happen to get caught out there without any Gortex armor. They came in handy a few times but it slowly dawned on me that they were really just one-use, disposable items. Their light-weight construction pretty much ensured none of them would ever see more than three rainfalls; or even more than one rainfall if there was a stiff wind involved. Their small surface area usually did little more than keep my head dry. But still I kept buying and breaking them, mostly because they could conveniently fit in my pocket, and I'm a sucker for anything that can conveniently fit in my pocket. Pretty soon I was into the near useless mini-umbrellas for probably the same cost as the best 'DriPore' equipped rain poncho. So I finally gave in and purchased a stoutly built, full sized umbrella.
It wasn't expensive either, but it's much better built. Actually, it's one of those big broad golfers' sun-umbrellas; made to shield the golfer, his bag, his caddy, and probably his golf cart. It's huge. Picture a beach umbrella with a handle. There's room for at least two people under it, three if you squeeze. Your protected all the way down to the lower portions of your legs, and the smaller-umbrella-equipped people give way to you on narrow sidewalks. It's so big it nearly creates it's own mini-climate underneath it's voluminous, tent-like roof. I love it.
The world is safer under a sturdy, broad umbrella. The ancients must have known this. Our generation might have dropped the ball on this one...
We poked our heads into a couple of the sparsely occupied stores, strolled down some of the nearly empty sidewalks, and then headed across the street to check out Thornes.
It was pretty roomy in there, too. Hopefully the weather has more to do with the alarming scarcity of shoppers on this holiday weekend than the buckling economy. At about this time last year it was shoulder to shoulder in there.
The depths that the economic slow-down will reach is still a big mystery, soon to unfold. This guy outside Thornes provided some accompanying music to ponder by...