‘Made in the shade’ just doesn’t last
by Dale Short
May 02, 2013 | 763 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dale Short
Dale Short
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As the great philosopher Richard Pryor used to say, "You generally don't get to be really old by being a fool. Remember all them young wise guys you used to know? They're gone."

Likewise, many of the old sayings we hear throughout our lives have gotten old for a reason--because more often than not, they're true.

But one old saying in particular has fallen by the wayside for us, this season: "The third time is the charm." That's because our third portable backyard canopy recently joined its brethren/sistern in the county landfill after being dismembered in a short bout of high winds.

In the bigger picture, three canopies is three years is probably not a bad record, considering. Our son and his family live out in one of those big square western states where, as the old musical tells us, "The wind comes sweeping down the plain!"

They tell us that it's easy to spot a newcomer from out of town in their neighborhood: suddenly, overnight, a brightly colored canopy on its jaunty aluminum stilts will blossom in someone's back yard.

What those newcomers are about to find out is that it's not uncommon for wind speeds in Wyoming to reach 60 or 70 miles an hour on a clear day — and when a storm's approaching, the wind really gets cranked up.

While our Alabama canopies tend to get shredded in place, a more likely fate for the western ones is to be plucked up in one foul swoop and transported to some other part of the U.S., as Dorothy and Toto were to Oz.

Either fate is clearly a downer, because the pleasure of sitting outside in a guaranteed shade in springtime, drinking an iced beverage and listening to birds sing, is one not to be missed, whatever deterrents must be overcome.

Which is why our fourth official back yard canopy is rolling toward us somewhere via a shipping service, even as we speak. Not surprisingly, we've gone to a somewhat lower price bracket each time the structure needs replacing.

For one thing, the price seems to have relatively little to do with a canopy's life expectancy. One secret seems to be keeping an eye toward the weather forecast and exercising (old-saying alert) an ounce of prevention when storms threaten by telescoping the device's legs down so that it makes a lower profile sitting on the ground.

But no matter how accurate the forecasts and a canopy-owner's intentions are, there comes a day--or several--when you're caught far from home and the wind surprises the situation, leaving the structure somewhat worse for wear.

That's when a spirit of determination (spite can work well, too) comes in handy. I remind myself that I briefly studied physics in school, back when it was newly invented (physics, not school) and may as well take a crack at repairing the damage with whatever materials are at hand.

Some standbys are leftover PC pipe, duct tape, and even the occasional broom handle. If you hold your tongue just right while doing the fixing, a combination of these can most often get a canopy's frame standing straight again--for weeks, sometimes even months. Which is definitely worth the trouble, because the pleasure of sitting under a shade in a springtime breeze is a terrible thing to waste.

And after all, hope springs eternal. Or is it, "hope is eternal in spring"?

I know I've heard one of those somewhere before.

Dale Short is a native of Walker County. His columns, photos, and radio features are available on his website, carrolldaleshort.com. His weekly radio program "Music from Home" airs each Sunday at 6 pm on Oldies 101.5 FM, streams live online at www.oldies1015fm.com, and is archived afterward on his website.