Another season, another reason to vacate Florida for the cooler climes of the northeast. As lovely as it is to have the good fortune to spend the winter months where scarves and gloves are not required, I feel equally fortunate to be able to leave when the temperature and humidity are responsible for an unending succession of bad hair days. I’m happy to say we survived another transition, arrived safely, and have been busy resettling, and wondering why we keep shlepping all this stuff back and forth! Oh, well. So, you now have my excuse for not coming up with a new essay at this time. But here’s one from 2016 that’s as true today as it was then with a few updates. And the grandkids referred to below? They’re now driving themselves to the beach, hopefully with a tube of sun block.
Summer Is a Bummer
Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of nostalgia. My capacity for fondly recounting the good old days is about half a cup. Sure, I have pleasant memories of growing up in the 40s and 50s, but I’m not about to initiate a petition for the return of Howdy Dowdy or lobby the fashion industry to bring back poodle skirts.
And, while I do miss Archie and Jughead, I don’t get sentimental when reminded of what the price of gasoline used to be, or that a movie ticket used to cost 25 cents.
While I pride myself at being a forward-thinking kind of gal, I must confess that this past Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of a new season, and the hot weather, did combine to trigger images of childhood, and a good, old-fashioned, unfettered Summer!
Whatever happened to the summers of my youth?
I really do miss them. I miss the anticipation of them. The arrival of June, the end of school, the extended hours of daylight, more time to spend outdoors.
While I still enjoy the extended hours of daylight, my appreciation is now more often from behind a screen door. Summers used to be carefree. Now they are hazardous to your health.
It’s hard to enjoy summer when you are repeatedly reminded of all of the risks that come with warm weather. How can I possibly find the same pleasures of the season when I feel I must carry my garbage to the outdoor bin wearing a hazmat suit?
When did summer become dangerous? Blame COVID-19, global warming, or the thinning of the ozone layer, but daring to walk out the front door unprotected feels like extreme risk-taking behavior. Perhaps that’s why I experience an adrenaline rush if I go to my mailbox without a hat on.
And the beach? A real downer. My inner child longs to run freely in and out of the water, and build elaborate sandcastles complete with moats. But my outer older person threatens with more age spots and/or a trip to the dermatologist if I don’t remain under the umbrella. Among my beach equipment is a tape measure to ensure that I am at least six feet away from the nearest beach blanket. And mask-wearing does result in a weird suntan.
Would I consider a drive in a convertible? Never. At least not until the sun goes down. And even with the top up, one is not safe. I’ve learned that bad rays can penetrate glass. Therefore, I’m seriously considering window treatments for my car.
And when it comes to applying sun protection, perhaps someone can help me with the proper protocol. Do I apply my sun block before or after I rub on my skin moisturizer? If I apply my moisturizer first, will that prevent my sun block from working? But if I apply my sun block first, will that prevent my moisturizer from plumping up my wrinkles?
In any event, there are now two layers of lotion on my face before I even put on my makeup. It’s no wonder that I walk around for the rest of the day feeling like a stick of butter.
And remember when mosquito bites were simply that? Annoying little itchy bumps that would subside in a couple of days? Since malaria was not a serious threat for those of us growing up in Bensonhurst, mosquitoes, while never our friends, were not to be feared. And insects did not dictate how we dressed.
But in summer I am told that I must be cautious about the Zika virus. I have been warned to cover up and use insect repellent. Tell me, do I spray this on before or after sun block and skin moisturizer?
One expert even suggested we wear mosquito netting to cover our faces. Hey, why not? It’s the perfect fashion accessory for the surgical mask worn to protect us from air pollution and Covid.
And in the good old summertime, who ever heard of ticks? Ticks were a sound made by my grandfather’s pocket watch. But I must also cover up and spray to prevent Lyme disease. So that’s me, in 90-degree weather, walking my dog in an outfit that looks like I’m about to embark on a ski vacation.
Maybe I should invest in that hazmat suit after all. I wonder, is it a one size fits all, and does it come in a choice of colors?
I admit summer still has some pleasures. I do look forward to fresh picked corn, luscious tomatoes, and juicy summer fruit. However, please don’t mind if I graciously decline that outdoor picnic for the safety and security of a screened porch.
But as I watch my grandchildren from said screen porch thoroughly enjoying their summer, and their mother chasing them with a tube of sun block, another thought occurs to me. Summer hasn’t changed at all. I have. Summer has always had its perils, but to be concerned about them was the responsibility of the adults.
I can recall my own mother’s hesitance to venture out from under the umbrella when she reluctantly consented to go to the beach, something as I child I could never comprehend. Today, that shade-seeking grown-up is me.