Bug Bites And Sunburns

While we were up in Maine I spent a lot of time outside working in the yard.  As a result, I became a feast for the neighborhood mosquito and biting fly squadrons, and also got a good coating from the sun.

bright-sun-in-blue-skyBy the end of my visit, I was covered in bug bites and was a bit sunburned to boot.  As I debated whether to scratch the hell out of the itchy bug bites (and, of course, ultimately doing so because I just couldn’t help it) and felt the warm tingle from the sunburned areas, I found myself thinking that the combination of sensations felt distantly familiar — and then I realized that I was re-experiencing conditions from my childhood summers.  In those days, Mom would kick us out of the house after breakfast and we would pretty much be outside all day until dinner — and then again after dinner, to play freeze tag or catch lightning bugs until it was full dark.  When you’re outside all day, a good slathering of Off! can only do so much — so my summers inevitably were accompanied by bug bites, mild sunburns, and the colossal itchiness that that combination brings.

When I realized that my condition was recreating a common experience from childhood, I felt a certain wistfulness that it had been so long since I’d felt that unique combination of bug bites and sun.  You don’t fully realize how much of an indoor, office-bound person you’ve become until you spend a good chunk of time outdoors on summer days and then deal with the consequences.  So, even though I’m still working away at a few of the especially itchy spots, I was glad for the bites and the burn and their reminder of the sunny days of yore when spending hours outside was just how the world worked.

Want to feel like a kid again?  Spend a lot of time outside, and the bugs and sunshine will help to remind you.

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Sunburn Season

It’s been brutally hot in Columbus the past few days, with the mercury reaching the high side of 90.  As a result, I’ve gotten my first sunburn of the season.

There are people who can “lay down a base” without getting burned and gradually get darker and darker, without telltale peeling, as the summer progresses.  It’s as if they have special tanning knowledge, passed down from generation to generation like the Rites of Ephesus.

I’m not one of those people.  I go directly from winter white to a blazing brick red that quickly peels off in great, sweeping curtains of skin the size of dish towels that you can roll up and toss in the waste basket.  After that distasteful condition passes, I’m set for the summer with a permanent ruddy red face.

This happens no matter what I try.  Today, for example, I smeared heaping handfuls of Coppertone on head, ears, face and neck in hopes of avoiding the burn.  After a few moments in the sun playing golf, however, my sweat glands kicked into high gear and the resulting cascade of sunscreen runoff left me partially blinded and milky eyed.  After swabbing the perspiration off with a towel, I may as well have not applied any suntan lotion in the first place.

And now I sit, with that fine, bright burning feeling on my skin, waiting for the peeling to begin.  Summer has arrived.