Sunday, January 17, 2016


The weather is holding remarkably here for January. The rain in the first week lasted about a day, and at the end of the week it was blue skies and warm. It has not really rained since. Of course it can’t last, but it makes for an amazing January while it’s here. Other parts of the country are seeing floods, and I think New York is having unseasonal warmth (the January 11 New Yorker cover portrays people bathing in a warm Rockefeller Center ice-rink-turned-swimming pool). Everything is out of kilter.

In anticipation of a rainy season, which we’re assured is coming, I bought two army surplus rain ponchos several months ago.  That first week’s rain provided the occasion to unwrap them, or maybe “unfurl” would be the better description.

Each comes tightly wrapped in a plastic ball about the size of a softball. Once out of its envelope, however, it unfurls into what proves to be a large sheet of black plastic with a hood in the middle. You stick your head through a hole in the plastic sheet and into the hood. A drawstring lets you pull the hood tight around your face. The rest of the sheet then drapes itself  around you shapelessly but effectively. It is impossible to fold it back into that softball-size envelope.

There are multiple snaps and laces, as is typical of army gear, but there is a particularly ingenious aspect to this item: snap two of them together and you have   a tent.

A hat rounds out the ensemble. The “boonie” hat is also black, this time of canvas, with a wide brim to divert the water away from the face. As you would expect, it has a chin strap. I’m not yet clear on whether you perch it atop your hood -- that would seem redundant -- or wear it instead of the hood, maybe in lighter rain. In any case, fully attired in my rain outfit, particularly with that black hood drawn tight around my face, I look like the Grim Reaper, but I am near-impervious to water damage.