Seen at the Wedding: Sunburn

My sisters and I grew up spending August at the Jersey shore, and we had more than one sunburn bad enough so that our skin peeled. Our mother used Coppertone on us, but the sunscreen formulation was not anywhere near as effective as it is now. And, we were outdoors, on the beach, in and out of the ocean all day long. I have cousins who were lifeguards, in the baking sun from May 30 through Labor Day, who’ve had so much cancerous skin removed from their faces that their entire appearance has changed.

People who live in tropical climates, like Nassau and Panama and Dubai — where the men offering camel rides to tourists on the beach are covered head to toe in flowing light colored robes — are careful to guard themselves from too much sun exposure. They are flabbergasted at the way we lie out in the sun, actively inviting the skin damage that comes with that bronzed look.

Around the various pools in Nassau and along the sand of Cable Beach, I saw several people with really bad sunburns out for a second or third or fourth day of exposure. I know what they’d say if I asked, because people have actually said this to me in Panama: “I’m only here for X days and I want to get my money’s worth.”Β 

Having warm sun on your back and shoulders really does feel good, and not only physically. Most of us are notably happier when spring arrives and we have more sunny days than cold and gray and gloomy ones. But the damage sun inflicts on our skin is real. Sunburn is painful: hot, angry, red, too tender to touch. We used to put a product called Noxema on ours; it was a goopy white cream that went on easy and cooled our angry skin and at least made us feel better, whether or not it sped up healing.

Getting sunburn upon sunburn upon sunburn is a really bad idea. A bad sunburn can make you feel ill, and increases chances of developing serious conditions like melanoma.

There are lots of things available now — better sunscreens, swim shirts to wear in the water, wide floppy hats, clothing with sun protection already in the fabric — that allow us to be out in the sun without incurring the negative effects. That people don’t use them, and continue to bask in the sun likeΒ  my lifeguard cousins did in the 1950’s, boggles my mind.


Getting to Know Seattle: Puget Sound View

For some reason I just like the composition of this pic. That evergreen with the top lopped over isn’t an unhealthy tree — it’s just the way it grows. There are lots of tall skinny evergreens here with the top lopped over. The structure you see is part of the system of grain elevators that loads grain into huge cargo ships for the trip to Asia. And the boat is the Argosy, a tour boat that runs up and down the coast of Puget Sound. You can get the same gorgeous view of downtown Seattle on the ferry to Bainbridge Island, which costs around $4 round trip, much less than the tour boat. But most visitors to Seattle don’t know about that alternative.

Getting to Know Seattle: Spring-Like

Seattle hit 77 degrees on Tuesday, which certainly won’t last but is a wonderful taste of consistently warmer weather to come. I clicked off the heat and opened all the windows, upstairs and down, and let the breezes sweep away the stale air of a house that’s been closed up all winter long.

Here in Seattle we have a clear harbinger that the season has changed: cruise ships to Alaska start lining up at the piers around May 15th. Amy’s Aunt Joyce and Uncle Ray live in Iowa, and they have a similar kind of marker: barges start transiting the Mississippi River.

Does the place where you live have any kind of tangible marker that a new season has arrived? If so, share it with us. πŸ™‚

Update on My Raccoons

Amy’s Aunt Joyce, a regular blog reader, asked if my raccoon problem has been solved. She noticed that my lawn looks lush and green.

The answer is no. Trapper Jon put a new kind of trap in the yard, and we now know there are two raccoons, not one. My neighbor saw them early one morning while letting out her dog. The trap hasn’t caught anything. But the raccoons haven’t been in the yard either, for more than a week.

I’d like to think they’ve moved on to better food opportunities, or that someone else trapped them, or that they’ve met their end in some other fashion. But Trapper Jon says this is baby season for raccoons. I suspect my pair are holed up with little ones, and that when they return they’ll come trailing a small army of voracious grub seekers.

Will let you know.

Getting to Know Seattle: Back Deck

This pic was taken mid-day on Sunday, when the temps were mid-50’s, set to reach 60 later in the day. The angle of the sun isn’t yet right to keep the back deck in full sun at this time of day, but you can see that setting the furniture in place and getting ready to sit out isn’t really premature. πŸ™‚