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Umbrellas in the snow

Jordan Gamble | Monday, December 1, 2008

I don’t think anyone is a fan of the snow that fell on campus on Monday.

It doesn’t settle on the ground in aesthetically pleasing drifts. It just kind of meekly melts on the sidewalks or feebly tries to cover the grass on the quad. It’s either hard and stinging or wet and slushy – not that big, feathery kind that elicits visions of idyllic Christmas cards.

Having Christmas card snow fall on your bare head is cool, because it settles all angelically and stuff. But the kind of snowfall we had yesterday? I’d much prefer to keep it off my hair, face and clothing, thank you. I don’t relish being wet and cold once it all melts when I go inside -especially when outside. Notre Dame is going to be some degree of both for the next four months.

To protect against the undesirable snow, some people wear hats, others hoods, others are just tough and zip up their jackets and saunter through the elements. But me, I use an umbrella.

I know, I know. An umbrella in the snow? Who does that?

One my friends, a native Californian who had never seen snow before coming to South Bend, had the same question freshman year. Some people told her it was nerdy, that you’d definitely stick out as a newbie to winter weather if you were seen with an umbrella in snowfall.

I told her what I saw as the most rational approach: If it works for rain, why not just use it for crystalline water ice?

Needless to say, I was the only person who had such an argument.

Maybe the novelty of walking through such precipitation discourages most from using umbrellas. Maybe they relish the light, white, fluffy, swirling goodness in a way that I cannot, seeing as how I have grown up in the crazy weather of Indiana and have had quite enough of “wintry mix” to fill up my novelty quota.

And, if you have trouble remembering to grab an umbrella even when it’s raining, the distraction of aforementioned swirling goodness will even further deter you from using one when its snowing.

So, in defense of snow umbrellas:

They keep you dry (at least your head and shoulders). All those layers of T-shirt, sweatshirt, fleece jacket, parka, scarf, ski mask, sock hat and earmuffs will not be for naught. Seriously, if they get wet, they are useless.

And, if you choose to go hatless, probably in an effort to retain some sign of hygienic attention to your hair, the snow will do your painstakingly styled coif no favors. Sure, it looks all angelic and stuff outside, but once you go into a heated building? Not so much.

Most importantly, umbrellas often come in bright, cheery colors, which stand out nicely against the (a) pristine white blanket of snow, or (b) the brutal, churning mess of slush and mud. Either way, the umbrella wins. No one will be able to resist the quirky charm of a bright red umbrella on the frozen tundra of South Quad.