Last Fall I was lucky enough to accompany my good buddy, Cindy, to Vermont to visit friends. While there I bought a wonderful Merino wool cowl neck sweater in a luscious plum color and a bulky, nubby knit, multi colored, shawl collared cardigan to go over it. Completely impractical since I was then living in Southern California, but cozy and delightful in the coolness of September Vermont. One morning last week I happily donned the two sweaters, knowing that I would not have to shed any layers in the chilliness of the crisp, Fall Montana weather. It was raining heavily when I left so I grabbed the umbrella next to my door and set off, eager to exchange my CA license for one that says MT. I had an appointment and went right to the counter, where a woman directed me to her desk. I gave her my application, driver's license, copy of my lease and my birth certificate, which I realized is in amazingly good shape considering its age. She looked at my California license, then up and me and said "Well, I see you are dressed for Fall." Having no answer for that, I smiled. "Yes, quite the Fall colors," she said. No real answer for that, either. She then took my birth certificate, which is from New York, and remarked, "Well, New York. That is quite a long ways away." She seemed to have a firm grasp of the obvious and no need for a response from me, so I just smiled again. "I see you have an umbrella," she continued. "We don't really use umbrellas here, although I think back East your people do." My people? I was born in NY, true, but spent less than 6 months there, certainly not long enough to be assigned to the people there. "Here," she said, "we just dash into the buildings quickly. You see it doesn't really rain here, just quick showers." Hmmm, I thought, it was a downpour when I left my home and it had gotten worse when I arrived. I suppose I could have left the umbrella at home and had my new driver's license photo taken with soaking wet hair and running mascara. I wondered briefly if I would have seemed more Montanan to her and less one of "those people". I declined to comment, but continued to smile thinking that at this rate my photo would show me baring my teeth in a back Eastern snarl. She checked over my paperwork, directed me to look into the vision device, then took my photo and gave me a temporary license. As I got up to leave she said "Well, try to stay warm today and don't forget your umbrella, although it has probably cleared up by now."
As I left the office, I lifted the open umbrella over my head, noting with satisfaction that no, the rain has not stopped. I entertained myself with the image of my marching back into her office and shaking the very wet umbrella right at her. I could only hope that when she left for the evening it was still pouring...buckets and buckets of nice, wet, rain...the kind "we" have back East but apparently not in Montana.