A Garden Amongst The Weeds

A Garden Amongst The Weeds

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sunshine and Daughters

Thank you Angelica Faith, for your beautiful words of wisdom.

This is about a tradition I used to hold every year with my mother. I grew up in a town that you could spit across without getting anyone wet, deep in the California valley. Every summer it’d get in the triple digits, usually around one-fourteen, and though everyone always said, “I don’t remember it ever being this hot,” it takes a lot to not remember every other year in that town. 

 Each June, as a welcoming to the scorching sun, my mother and I would collect our favorite books, splash our favorite fruit juices into one giant cup, and lay out a blanket in our back yard. We’d spend the day there, laughing and sleeping and reading, slurping up our eccentric cocktail and soaking the sun itself into our skins, until the giant fiery sphere began to hang above the horizon line, when we’d gather our day’s supplies together (the tattered paper backs and notebooks we’d claimed as our own, the long retired cup now sheathed in a sticky surface and a sprinkling of ants, and the grass stained blanket that had accompanied us for so many years) and return inside for a comfortable sleep, hoping that tomorrow would be as filled with joy.


She and I don’t do that now- we don’t have the time. She works constantly and my siblings keep me moving, playing mommy because I need to. She eats her lunch in the sun when she can, she tells me. Brings juice with her to work, and usually a book or two. I’m glad for that, its good for her. This morning I woke up to clear blue skies when the report yesterday had told me that it would be raining the whole day long. I grabbed a blanket and a cup of coffee (it was too early for juice, I told myself) and one of our rather worn Robert Fulghum’s to enjoy the sunlight while it lasted.

And though we can’t enjoy our tradition anymore, I look forward every year to the sun coming back, because it makes me remember those times. The days when we’d lay there and look up into the sun with our eyes closed, seeing big red dots, and letting the sun bake us until it decided to give the other half of the world a run for its money. When I was younger, I didn’t burn because I never lost my tan, but nowadays I even look forward to the blistering sunburn.

Most people greet the summer months with a kind of antipathy. The wave fans and paper and anything else they can get their hands on at their necks and faces to ward off the destructive heat. They stay inside and turn on their AC’s and hide from the angry sun. If they are forced to be outside for any particular reason, they seek shaded areas. And they complain. Every summer I hear various versions of “Certainly hot today, isn’t it?” and “Will the temperature ever go down?” and “I can’t take much more of this,” all said with expressions on their faces as if you’d just given them the traditional Wet Willy.

Of course, they have reasons for their disgust. It’s not like it was when they were kids; the warmer months don’t mean freedom from school and parents and chores and homework and all the other evils in the life of a child. Summer doesn’t mean play in the sprinkler and fall asleep in the sun and certainly not do what you want, and enjoy it, please. Summer doesn’t mean “explore” anymore.

Naturally, there are medical reasons as well. Too many UV rays will cause skin cancer, you know. And the scorching sun could give you heat stroke. Scientists believe that sunburns affect your immune system. Putting your body into extreme temperatures isn’t good for you and the bright light makes you more likely to develop eye diseases, including cataracts. Overexposure to the sun causes wrinkles.

Yet I would argue that lying beneath that depressive sun for a few hours is one of the healthiest things you can do. Besides the delicious warm tan you develop, it’s been scientifically proven that the sun actually makes you feel better. When exposed to the sun’s UV rays, it triggers in your body the release of serotonin, which helps you eat better, sleep better, and cures anxiety and depression. Basically, serotonin is the Happy Hormone, and there’s not much else you can do to get it. In addition, sun exposure, in moderate amounts, can actually help prevent, and even cure melanoma (the most common form of skin cancer), due to its production of vitamin D in the body. Wacky.

Besides, who told you that you weren’t allowed to play in the sprinkler? That you can’t fall asleep in the sun, or explore the unknown reaches of your backyard in your most comfortable (and probably most unseemly) bathing suit? Or that summer can’t mean spontaneous picnics and water fights?
It would probably do you good to don your stained one-piece or swim shorts, and catch froggies in the yard with the little ones. Imagination and creativity lies in the heart of a child. It’s bad for your soul to grow up.

She's right you know. We move too fast and rarely take time for the simple things.

 So this post is for my daughters, they hold my heart and keep it young.

May we always find time to cherish the sun and take time out for the small things. 

For it is the small things that make up the moments of our lives, to be cherished,
appreciated and looked back on with love.

Enjoy your moments in the sun
and as always,

Happy Gardening!

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