Saturday, August 2, 2008

For a rainy day

Don't you know? Umbrellas are magical creatures. Any child could tell you so, and I remember walking between two buildings when I was seven and visiting Denmark with my family. There was a gusty draft, and the umbrella that I was holding turned inside-out! I felt like Charlie Chaplin!

The word "umbrella" is very pretty, I think, and I used to think that I might like to name a daughter it. Um-brel-la... I supposed that I would call her "Ella" for short. Maybe, I should have just named a doll "Umbrella" and been done with it.

Autumn has never told me, but the below outfit could be one of her favorites: She appears to be very pleased when it's the clothes choice of the day. The cotton skirt would be very plain indeed, if not for the little multi-colored umbrellas; it's jaunty--and even appropriate--on sunny days.

Let me expand your umbrellas-in-the-arts awareness! Most everyone knows about "Singin' in the Rain" with Gene Kelly, but have you heard of these?

Rain by Peter Spier: My parents gave this book to me when I was a child at the end of a school year. It has no words and features pictures of a sister and brother's experience of a rainy day. I found it mesmerizing and still do.

Yellow Umbrella by Jae Soo Liu and Dong Il Sheen: This book is by two South Korean authors but is transcedent with its use of images and sounds. This picture book, featuring a child's rainy walk to school as from the perspective from above, would also be a silent experience, if not for the music CD included with the book. I discovered this artful book while a library page, and it's delightful.

"Les Parapluies de Cherbourg," a film by Jacques Demy: This French classic from 1964 is also very visual, and it's a musical with dialogue that's entirely sung. The story is sweet but tragic, and Catherine Deneuve plays Genevieve who works in an umbrella shop and is in love with Guy (José Bartel), an auto mechanic. Umbrellas have a way of accentuating one's features and motions and creating a charming atmosphere in general, as this film shows. An aside, my mother used to listen to the soundtrack by Michel Legrand while she was studying ("Guy and Genevieve were my friends."), as I did much later, only on CD.