Now that it’s almost summer, June 21, there are things we have to remember how to deal with all over again. So here’s a refresher course.
1. Sun. Summer often comes with sunshine. Sunshine is everywhere that isn’t in a shadow. You must be careful of sun, even though it can be good for you in small doses, because it can give you all kinds of Vitamin D, which builds strong bones and teeth. The UV rays from sunlight trigger Vitamin D synthesis in the skin. It may have other beneficial effects. For instance, there’s speculation that Vitamin D could reduce the risk of breast cancer. This is something I wish I had known about fourteen years ago. Because I sunburn so badly I probably missed out on those beneficial effects in my childhood spent under hats and trees and umbrellas. We never were allowed to go to the beach unless it was early in the morning or late in the evening. We didn’t even know that Massachusetts beaches are notoriously crowded.
So, welcome the sun, but be careful because too much can cause skin cancer. You should get between 5 and 30 minutes of sunlight on your skin twice a week, without sunscreen, but put on sunscreen immediately afterward. Sunlight is also hard on your hair, especially if you color it. At least that’s what I read on the Internet.
2. Bugs. Summer, especially Mississippi Valley summer, comes with bugs (I’m using the term “bugs” to mean all the creepy crawly flying things). They can bite you — bees, mosquitoes, wasps, ticks, chiggers, and a million other things that Pandora let out of the box. I bought some cool things, bug repellent in stretchy wristlets, like the ones people wear the key to the cash box on, but I was already bitten to pieces before I found where I put them away, waiting for summer to actually get here. So I can’t tell you whether or not they work. Bug bites can be painful, itchy, unsightly, and if you are allergic, fatal. So watch for those bugs.
3. Bathing suits. This gets to be a more painful part of summer the longer you live. You grow from being wowza in a bikini to being embarrassing in a one-piece under a neck to ankle coverup. But summer almost demands a bathing suit, so my advice is to suck it up and go for it. In our early married years we took a trip to Mexico, where for the first time I saw senior citizens wearing bikinis, even the men. I was shocked until someone told me they were Canadians. Apparently if you live in Canada you don’t know how to act when it’s summer and your polar bear coat is too hot, so you just do what comes naturally and don’t let a little cellulite ruin a good time. Those ladies gave new meaning to “muffin top” and never even blushed.
4. Bicycles. Don’t get me started. If you’ve read this column before, you know that I can’t understand why Winona doesn’t enforce some simple bike rules. But watch out for them whether you are in a vehicle or on foot. They come at you from all directions, whizzing through red lights and stop signs, scaring babies and old ladies alike. Be vigilant. And if you ride one, wear a helmet and follow the rules of the road as you would (or should) in a car.
So. You’ve heard teachers complain that what we need is year-round school because kids forget so much during the summer? I think we Minnesotans need year-round summer because we forget so much about it over the winter. Let’s see which presidential candidate can promise that! It would get my vote.
More on the steamboat sign from a reader
The “little Wilkie” at one time had a “support” of a number of lilac bushes, which masked its naked pole, courtesy of the Winona Flower and Garden Club.
Not too many years ago, the lilacs all disappeared, and not one City employee had an explanation. The Winona Flower and Garden Club also planted a hedge of lilacs along the highway side of the East Lake bike path. They are now being overtaken by “trash trees”, and left to the destiny of “survival of the fittest”.