Broken Patio Umbrella: Is it Just Me?

Me & My Rusty Grilling Tools

A good craftsman never blames his tools… he blames himself for abandoning his tools to the harsh winter instead of walking a mere foot outside the sanctuary of his sliding patio door to retrieve them.

Then continuing to hibernate inside for the better part of five months as said tools rot and crumble and rust.

Is it just me?

Or have you, too, been through the annual hope and agony of selecting a new patio umbrella from the racks at Home Depot, or Lowe’s, or your everyday neighborhood pharmacy-post-office-convenience-store (here, it’s Lewis); or shiny, unblemished, portable firepit; or charcoal grill chimney starter; or X, or Y, or Z; only to take it for granted, leave it to its own devices, and come springtime emerge to the melting snow and embarrassing realization that you’re about to shell out for a new set of all of the above?

Because hope, like the warmth of the May sun, springs eternal.

Hope that your first patio umbrella won’t leap like a kite following an unseasonably warm Thanksgiving like ours did 10 years back, carrying the glass-topped patio table with it.

We replaced the umbrella and the table, and I think left the table and the chairs behind when it wouldn’t fit in our (second!) moving truck after we left Chicago. (The second umbrella had long since burst its seams and collapsed like Pinocchio after his romp on Pleasure Island.)

But… two moving trucks… we don’t throw everything away.

We dutifully replaced the table and chairs about 6 years back, and they’re still going strong, except they’ve outlasted about three patio umbrellas since then.

Oh, I’ve even taken them down once in awhile. Tied them shut. Screwed them tightly into the base. Deluded myself into thinking I could watch a YouTube video and fix them. Held onto the washer and screws when that fix failed and found them glinting beneath the table once the umbrella made like Superman again.

But in the end, the umbrella goes in the trash. And I buy a new one. For all the renewed fun I’ll have with it.

It’s not just me, right?

broken patio umbrella

Yard of Misfit Outdoor Implements

It’s not that we don’t care about our things. We do. We have such high hopes for them, after all, and the memories they’ll help us create.

… Sharing evening drinks under the umbrella. (Ignoring the swooping bats and the mosquitoes they don’t end up catching.)

… Roasting marshmallows in the center of the yard. (Ignoring the burned out patch you’re creating on your lawn a half inch beneath the portable firepit’s ridiculous, stubby legs.)

… Savoring the clean taste of grilled food that isn’t tainted by lighter fluid because brilliant you used the chimney starter instead. (Ignoring the rust flaking said chimney starter and the possible gastric distress caused by the grill scrapers you left out, brush-side-up, to get rained on and snowed on and — yeah, probably — bird-pooped on.)

Ah, memories!

So when our grips inevitably loosen on those things we thought we’d cling to, and we go off to our myriad other meanderings, and upon returning, notice the neglect, yearn for more memories… it’s only natural, I guess, to shell out another couple hundred as an investment in the new, better camping chair we’ll actually tote camping, hammock we’ll wile away the breeze in, and spatula we’ll set to spatulating instead of, you know, dangling dumbly from the side of the grill all winter long.

Or maybe we’re investing in the hope of a more responsible self. To care for and maintain these tools that, in previous decades and centuries, might have been listed in our great-great-great-great grandparents’ estates. That they’ll be part of the better you that can move on from acquiring the seventh generation of your patio umbrella and set about buying that first hot tub or proper stone patio or lake-cruising boat.

I can see where this is headed.

Or, is it just me?

 

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