Friday, July 23, 2010
It’s berry picking time in the Adirondacks. At least it appeared that way to me during my recent visit to our camp in Loon Lake. The road into the camp is bordered by raspberry bushes that were showing spots of ripe red berries. On my walk down to the lake I also noticed a neighbor’s front yard filled with blueberry bushes and a crop just ripe for picking. I have to admit to sampling a few berries just to make sure they were ready
Seeing these wild berries reminded me of the summers my mother would load up the car with buckets and bring us all out to pick blueberries. I just hated that time of year. I moaned and groaned the whole time and rarely picked more than a cup of berries. It was so disheartening to hear the drop of those small berries in the bucket – plunk, plunk, plunk. I was told that we could go home when I had picked a full quart. I never could pick a quart but I got to go home anyway.
Feeling a little nostalgic, I decided to try my hand at berry picking. Maybe I would have more success as an adult. I donned my sun hat and equipped myself with a variety of cups and a basket to help me carry what I hoped to be lots and lots of berries. Up to the power lines I headed where there are always lots of blueberries to be found. It was a beautiful day. The sights, sounds and smells were mesmerizing and I found myself pausing to take deep breaths and marvel at the scenery.
I was encouraged when I immediately found a few bushes and picked a handful berries. Unfortunately, that was where my luck ended. Up and down the path I went searching for more blueberry bushes. Not finding any, I decided to switch tactics and pick raspberries since they seemed so plentiful. Wouldn’t you know, as soon as.
I made that decision the abundance of raspberries seemed to disappear before my very eyes. The most accessible bushes no longer offered me juicy berries to pick. The best berries were now located deep in the tangle of thorny bushes just out of reach. I couldn’t help but think of Brer Rabbit in his little house in the briar patch. No way was I going in there!
True to my younger self, I not only didn’t pick a quart of berries, I didn’t even pick a cup! There has to be a lesson in this experience. I think that it may be that desire for an object is directly related to the ability to obtain it. The berries within my reach were just not good enough while the ones just beyond were the absolute best. Well anyway, I brought my mother my meager offering. After all, it’s the thought that counts!
Monday, July 12, 2010
In anticipation of my trip to Florida, I went in search of sunscreen. We all know how important it is to use sunscreen. No more carefree days on the beach! The benefit of sunscreen is measured by a sun protection factor (SPF). The SPF is the amount of ultraviolet radiation required to cause sunburn on your skin with the sunscreen on. Therefore, wearing a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 means that your skin will not burn until it has been exposed to 30 times the amount of solar energy that would normally cause your skin to burn.
Anyway, I found a 15 SPF lotion and a 30 SPF lotion in the bathroom cabinet and decided to test if there really is a difference between the two. According to the above statement, the 30 SPF lotion should allow me to be in the sun for twice as long as the 15 SPF lotion before my skin starts to burn. The weather for Saturday called for a sunny 90 degree day. It sounded like the perfect day to conduct a test.
My legs don’t get much sun so I decided to use them as my canvas. To make things as fair as possible, I alternated the application of lotion on each leg: 15 SPF on the top of one, a strip of skin with no lotion and then the 30 SPF. I applied the lotion alternately on the other leg. With my hams all protected, I settled myself on the deck with a book and some iced tea. Within an hour the sky clouded up and it started to rain. So much for that test! I noted that after an hour, there was no sign of sunburn on any part of my legs with sunscreen or otherwise. I suppose that means I can stay out at least an hour without any sunscreen at all without any adverse effects. I’ll have to try this test again when the sun decides to shine for more than an hour at a time.
Anyway, it seems there is more to protecting your skin than simply lathering on a sunscreen. According to Whole Living Magazine, sunscreen eliminates only about 55 percent of the damage to your skin caused by UV rays. Apparently eating right and reducing stress helps your body form an internal sunscreen. On the list of beneficial foods are spinach, tomatoes, oranges, apples and coffee. At first glance this article seemed to be testing my limits of gullibility. I realize that I am greatly influenced by what I read. After all, if it’s in the newspaper it must be true! But if you think about it, this theory does make sense. Sunburn is an inflammation of the skin. Therefore, if you load up on antioxidants which help reduce inflammation, the effects of sunburn can be limited.
I wonder how many bowls of spinach I will need to eat while I am at the beach in Florida.