Kansas weather. Do I need to say anymore? I can’t help it, I have to.
As soon as the snow stops, tornado season starts — if the tornadoes even decide to be that courteous — and then it’s going to start raining. I know that we’ll get the customary two weeks of glorious-ness in May, but, in the meantime, what’s a mama who’s ready for some fresh air to do?
I’ll tell you what — go outside anyway.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes, a Brit who has been dubbed “the world’s greatest living explorer” by The Guinness Book of World Records, once said, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”
The point applies to my family’s neighborhood walks just as much as it does to Sir Fiennes’ Antarctic treks. Bundled up appropriately, even a downpour can be a great time to be outside. In fact, a “puddle walk” can be even more fun than those perfect sunny days we’re all longing for.
But the right gear, for both grown-ups and kiddos, will most certainly be the difference between adventure and misery.
Start with base layers appropriate to the weather. If it’s warmer you can get away with less, but if it’s chilly layer on a thick sweatshirt or flannel and warm socks. We typically just go out in jeans, but if you wanted to stay even dryer, water-resistant pants, or even snow pants, are also an option.
Next, you’ll need a few good pairs of rain boots. Target, 3201 Iowa St., has some that are perfectly functional, but if your small ones want something cute, check out the Blue Dandelion, 841 Massachusetts St., for some adorable options. Grown-ups probably have their own fashion ideas as far as boots go, but Orscheln Farm and Home, 1541 E. 23rd St., has functional rubber work boots in stock most of the year. They aren’t Jimmy Choos, but they’ll keep your feet dry.
Then, you’ll need good waterproof jackets, preferably with hoods. Again, anything that repels water will do, but I found a practically bulletproof coat for the Kid during the Sidewalk Sale this past summer at Sunflower Outdoor, 804 Mass St. (Pro-tip: Buy it a little big, so it can be worn for 2 years.)
Lastly, for the grown-ups at least, you’ll probably want a sturdy umbrella. Get one big enough to cover two, as there’s nothing more annoying than feeling water drip down your back as you try to share a too-small umbrella.
Once you’re properly suited-up, head outside. Run in the rain. Stomp and wade in puddles. Catch big, fat raindrops in your mouth. Throw rocks in the water and watch the ripples. Observe to see which critters are venturing out in the rain with you and which ones stay hidden. Go to the park, even.
If nothing else, you’ll have expended some pent-up energy, breathed in some fresh air and given yourself new gratitude for the warmth and coziness of being indoors.
In fact, I have to confess, as much as I enjoy taking the Kid out to play in the rain, my favorite part is afterward. The absolutely divine feeling of changing into warm, dry clothes and sipping a cup of hot tea is a Kansas-weather side effect we all should enjoy.
— Meryl Carver-Allmond lives in Lawrence and writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day at mybitofearth.net.