It's summer here in the United States of America. And a strange one it has been. We've experienced some cool weather for this time of year. But the really hot weather will still make its presence known. And when that happens, we will all be searching for some cool, cool shade.
It has been that way everywhere throughout history. Mankind prefers his climate to suit his own preferences, rather than submitting himself meekly to what the climate delivers to him. The proof exists all over the world. Whether it's sculptures on monuments in Egypt, paintings on Ancient Greek vases, or ancient artifacts found in China, man has been bringing his own shade with him wherever he traversed in the form of parasols (protection from the sun) or umbrellas (protection from the rain).
Of course, the devises were available to the nobility of the world, carried by the common man to protect his "betters." But at least 600 years before Christ, portable shades were popping up all over the world.
People are still looking for ways to improve on this simple design. In fact, there are so many designs submitted to the U.S. Patent Office, that it is said they have four full-time workers to assess the designs. I read that by the end of 2008, the U.S. Patent Office had registered 3,000 active patents. Many of these involved making designs to make them more aerodynamic for better wind flow and control.
For all these patents, we rarely see umbrellas in use around the country. Of, yes, when it is raining they will pop up here and there. But many dash from car to building using anything at hand to try to keep a bit of the weather off the head. Maybe it's a newspaper or book, a plastic bag, or a shirt collar pulled up as high on the head as possible. But you don't see folks just strolling around the area with that bit of material to keep the hot sun at bay. Or perhaps, I just live in the wrong part of the country to see them on a regular basis.
In fact, we seem to use the umbrella more with our outdoor furniture. Whether on a patio, a deck, or a porch, we do like to sit out under the shade as we sip our sweet tea. (This is the south, after all.)
I myself carry an umbrella with me at all times. It's under the driver's seat of my car. But that is really where it remains. I do intend to put it to better use, but then the notion just slides away from the brain and the item stays in place in the car.
Maybe I'll do better. But then again, maybe not. What about you? Do you use the brolly? That's a term more often associated with our friends in Britain, New Zealand, Ireland, and Australia - among other countries. How do we bring it to the forefront of the grey matter and put this very handy item to more use? Let me know if you have any ideas.