Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’ve tasked myself with throwing open the cabinet of curiosities and wondrous things I call my brain and leading you on a tour of what actually resides in there – all through the lens of unusual, obscure, or simply charming-to-me words.
U is for…
umbraculiform – 1. shaped like an umbrella; 2. (botany) having the form of anything that serves to shade, such as a treetop or especially an umbrella
It takes a while for April’s showers to bring May’s flowers, but in the meantime that gives us plenty of time to talk about umbrellas.
Ancient art and artifacts prove that the umbrella was in existence more than 4000 years ago, and had its place in the cultures of Egypt, China and Greece. These first iterations were designed to provide shade as well as indicate status and reserved solely for royalty. It was the Chinese who first waterproofed their umbrellas for protection against rain – starting with a leather umbrella in 11th century BC. Later the Chinese waxed and lacquered their paper parsols making them more suitable for rain.
Discussing umbraculiform doesn’t limit us to actual weather-protection devices, and let’s segue into a more expansive definition via a dream I had a while ago.
I was in a street full of people carrying umbrellas. It wasn’t actually raining though – in fact the sky was filled with double rainbows in jaw-dropping gorgeous colors more suited to a box of surreal crayons. And just as I was adjusting to the delights of these visions, I noticed that in fact people weren’t actually carrying umbrellas, they were carrying giant flowers that were somewhat shaped like umbrellas. It was gasping-in-delight amazing. I so wanted a giant flower to carry around as well. But even as I was thinking about how cool that would be, the scene morphed once again and instead of people carrying flowers like umbrellas, the people’s heads had turned into giant ball-like flowers (think Alliums) and their necks were long stems. It was hilarious and delightful at the same time. Gives a whole new definition to flower child.
Having turned in the direction of botany, what’s more umbrella-shaped than some mushrooms, specifically those most commonly known as toadstools? While it’s fun imaging (or seeing if you’re lucky) an entire fairy ring, a single specimen is
I have a penchant for vintage postcards with fabulous graphics. Isn’t this toad-stool-sitting gnome playing an accordian an absolute delight?
Just to round things out with a bit of trivia, letting you see just exactly what manner of wonders my brain contains… Did you know umbrella-menders were nicknamed mushroom-fakers in nineteenth century slang? Doesn’t that make you smile?
Before shaking off the rain-drenched umbrellas and putting them away, there’s one more thing I think is worthy of our consideration – these words attributed to Walter Groupius:
“The mind is like an umbrella. It’s most useful when open.”
So what do you think? More in need of an umbrella or parasol today? Ever see a gnome? Like mushrooms? Do tell – you know I love to hear.