I have always been a fan of umbrellas. Gene Kelly singing in the rain, Mary Poppins flying, and the umbrella-weapon belonging to the Penguin from Batman were all awesome to me! My husband must have been inspired by those things, too. When he was about 4 or 5, he grabbed an umbrella, climbed up onto the roof of his house, opened the umbrella, and jumped. He still remembers floating for a split second before the umbrella turned inside out and gravity took over. Luckily, he was alright.
My little sister, Meg, the baby of the family, eleven years younger than me, called her umbrella a “rainbrella.” We thought it was adorable and never corrected her. But when she returned home from kindergarten one rainy day, soaking wet and furious, we realized we should have. Apparently, the mean girls didn’t think “rainbrella” was adorable. They told Meg she was a “Baby Talker.” She was so embarrassed, she didn’t want to use her “rainbrella” anymore.
As an adult raising kids in Florida, my umbrella was not just protection from spontaneous monsoon-like downpours, it was a useful shady shelter, too. I kept one in my car for those just-in-case situations. But, and this is weird because I have fair skin and freckles, I never thought to buy a beach umbrella until I met Stephanie.
Stephanie is one of those amazingly organized moms who always has the right stuff for any situation. The first time my son and I went to the beach with Stephanie and her son, felt like the first time I’d ever been. When we arrived at the beach, Stephanie opened the back hatch of her van and removed a small cart with wheels as I slung my worn out beach bag over my shoulder. The four of us walked to a nice spot near the shore. Stephanie began to unpack her cart like it was a clown car at the circus. She first took a shovel from the cart, dug a hole, and placed an umbrella in it. She then unfolded a large beach blanket, an adult-sized folding chair, and a child-sized folding chair. After that, she pulled out a cooler, sand toys, sun screen, and beach towels. Within minutes, she had assembled a portable living room at the beach. I was thoroughly impressed! Jack and I sat next to her and her son on our sand-covered beach towels with our soggy sandwiches, warm juice pouches, and no sunscreen. (I forgot to bring it, but Stephanie let us borrow some of hers.)
When I write stories for my Readerville Reading program, I am often drawing from my real life experiences. A lot of the characters are based on people I know. The Readerville Beach story, “3 By the Sea” is sort of about that day at the beach. When I showed the story to Stephanie she said, somewhat alarmed, “Wait, am I that bossy penguin?” I answered, “It’s kind of a composite character. The penguin having all the right stuff for the beach is you and, maybe slightly, Mary Poppins. The bossy part of the penguin is, most likely, the Batman villain.”
This umbrella craft won’t protect you from the elements, but it will keep your drink shaded on a hot day. Bring it to the beach to impress your friend who has all the right stuff! Click UMBRELLA STRAW to get the template and instructions for this craftivity.