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To Cover or Not?

     Life was so simple before I got the patio furniture covers. After making an investment in patio furniture for the first time in twenty years, I jumped at the chance to buy some cheap, end of summer sales, protection. The covers arrived, folded neatly in small butterscotch-colored bundles that opened up into huge parachute-size tarps.

     My iPhone weather app told me there was a 40% chance of rain. The weatherman was talking about the coming of El Nino. What could I do? I took the cover lying on top of the box and unfolded it. It wasn’t marked. What’s it for? The loveseat? The table and chairs?

     I shook it and floated it out over the table and chairs. Lucky guess. It breezed down over everything, but wait—there’s a bunch of straps hanging out. What are these? Tie-downs? In case of a hurricane?

     No hurricanes around here. I scuffed the straps under the table and moved on to the next neatly folded butterscotch bundle. Surprisingly quickly I covered all the furniture.

     I wish. Since the covers are shaped to fit each piece, you can’t just toss them over the chair or table or whatever. I put them on backward; I put them on sideways; I put them on the wrong piece of furniture. Finally they came to rest where they belonged and I went inside to relax. No worries.

     No rain, either. I waited four days before I took the covers off. Taking them off was easy, but folding them? They’re huge and bulky and my arms aren’t wide enough to reach both ends. Of course I tried the biggest one first. After fighting it for twenty minutes I crumbled it into a messy ball and shoved it into the weatherproof storage box by the chimney. Half an hour later, I had them all shoved in there. Smushed, crinkled and sloppy, but in the box with the lid closed.

     The next two weeks were fraught with indecision. It’s supposed to rain but the sun is shining. Not a cloud in the sky. Should I cover? Not cover? The weather app says 30 percent chance. Should I cover? I do. No rain. Last night there was a 10 percent chance of rain. I didn’t cover.

     It rained. I woke up to a wet patio and drizzle. I scrambled outside to see rain drops freshly beaded on the plump beige cushions of the wicker furniture.  I brought the cushions in to dry and spent fifteen minutes covering the wicker frames. The sun came out.

     There’s something else. I covered the furniture before the last real rain and it worked fine—except for the shallows. Water collected in the dips of the material stretched over the table. Much as I tried, I couldn’t get the cover positioned to drain the water off the sides. Maybe that’s what the straps are for? To straighten out the dips?

     Life was simple when my patio furniture was left uncovered, to fend for itself. Maybe I should have left well enough alone.

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