One Saturday in October I was charged with being chaperone for Chef Tony Geraci as he made his way around Charlottetown meeting people and talking about school food for the PEI Home and School Federation.
It was a rainy Saturday, and I was concerned that the rain would continue all day, so I brought umbrellas for us.
At the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market, I asked Tony if he wanted one.
“No, that’s okay,” he said, “I’ve got a jacket with a hood.”
It had never occurred to me, until that moment, that a jacket with a hood provided the same service as an umbrella.
But, thinking about it, with the possible exception of some additional trouser protection that a big umbrella might provide, I realized Tony was right: what do you need with an umbrella when you have a hood.
This may seem like an insignificant little realization, but it was one of the most important things I learned last year.
Hoods have the added bonus of not loosing all function when it's windy.
This depends a lot on the specific hood. My winter coat hood is very good in this regard, with tightly-closable straps that allow me to draw it tight. My fall and spring jacket is less optimized, and my hood on that jacket is as likely as not to fly off. Better than an umbrella, perhaps, but not by much.
My favourite umbrella came from the The Old Farmer’s Almanac store: it’s a “windproof” umbrella. I originally took this to mean that it would not suffer from the wind at all, but it turns out that the key feature of windproof umbrellas is that they are not destroyed by the wind. They still blow apart like any other umbrella in a strong gust, but they’re easy to slip back together when other lesser umbrellas just fall apart and need to be tossed in the trash.