By Sue KILPATRICK
“California dreamin’ On such a winter’s day …”
— The Mamas and The Papas
As the Rose Parade made its way down Colorado Boulevard, welcoming the New Year and also many out-of-town guests, I was reminded of these lyrics. It is winter in southern California – low temperatures in the 30s, above average rainfall, snow on the mountaintops, clear-blue skies and a lingering of fall leaves still scatter our yards. For those who braved the elements and ventured over to the parade route, we donned down jackets, gloves, hats and boots. The parade-watchers from other parts of the country, where winter conditions are really harsh, must be amused by our reaction to “a little cool weather.” After all, no driveways were shoveled and the City of Pasadena did not send out the snowplows so we could reach our destination. The predicted storm was slow to move in – no need for umbrellas this year – not for rain, anyway!
Speaking of umbrellas, as I often do, they were originally used for protection against the scorching heat of the sun. Another word for the same is parasol – “para” meaning to shield or stop and “sol” meaning sun. Invented either by the Egyptians or Chinese 4,000 years ago it was a symbol of wealth, often carried by slaves over the head of the king or ruler. The larger the umbrella, the greater the wealth of its owner.
Eventually wax was used to waterproof this invention and its use spread to Europe. As the story goes, a traveler walked the streets of London in the 1700s holding this new device in protection against the constant downpour. The locals who witnessed him were angry – for God made rain to water both plants and people. Comfort prevailed and the first umbrella shop – James Smith and Sons – opened in London and is still operating today. As a little girl I remember walking to school on rainy days with my little pink umbrella thinking I was pretty special.
The total rainfall for the season stands at exactly 20 inches. And the upcoming days will give us a chance to dry out and enjoy the sunshine. Temperatures will remain cool with daytime highs in the 60s and nights in the upper 30s and low 40s. No rain is in the forecast for now. Southern California’s mild weather is definitely worthy of song … on a winter’s day.
Sue Kilpatrick is a longtime CV resident and amateur weather watcher. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.