Well, it is that time of year again. The time of year that we as Minnesotans attempt to get in 12 months of fun outside in about 3 1/2 months. It is time to enjoy the sunlight and sunshine that makes this area one of the best to live in.
But for a few of us, myself included, the summer is also a time to break out the SPF 5,000 and clamor to a shady area. Yep, I am one of the many people that experience sunburn from the littlest of rays. To be honest, I got sunburned on both my arms, face and calves three weeks ago on a cloudy day. I didn’t really notice it until I got time to sit down and realize that I was feeling unnaturally warm in a few areas.
This isn’t the worst burn I have felt or the last time that I probably will get burned. This is just a yearly cycle that I seem to experience.
One of my earliest memories of getting sunburned happened when I was about 8 years old. I had gone with my family to visit my uncle, aunt and cousins at their campsite on Jewett Lake. I spent most of the day running around with my cousins, fishing, playing games, swimming and having an overall great time. In the evening, we roasted s’mores and my uncle taught all of us a magic trick using a match. I went to bed in our family tent and was excited for what tomorrow would bring.
Then 1 a.m. hit.
I woke up and immediately threw up. I remember my parents getting concerned, me crying and the chills that would follow. After a bit, I fell back asleep.
The next day, I woke up with an itching and sore back. What I discovered was my first bad sunburn. See, my mother had applied sunscreen on me earlier in the day, but it had worn off and I continued to swim and play without a shirt. That day was also the first day that I discovered aloe vera.
In my teen years, tubing down the river was all the rage. I had learned my lesson from prior sunburns so I made sure to apply sunscreen to my face, chest, arms, back and calves. But where I didn’t apply it was on my upper legs. As we went down the river, my inner thighs got the blast from the sun for over two hours. When I got home, I had to walk like a cowboy heading to a duel for two days. My friends thought it was pretty funny, I, myself, did not.
Another time, I was in South Dakota helping at a high school football camp. It was early in the morning and we had never been to the football field. It was reasonably cool as well.
After a few hours, the sun’s heat and rays began to get to me. I made it through the individual teaching portion of the camp and had lunch with the rest of the coaches and a few players. By the time lunch was over, I noticed that my face, arms and legs were all toast.
The next portion of the camp was a scrimmage between several teams. Coaches were supposed to officiate, help with the chains and talk with players. I was busy sitting in the only area that had any shade, a concession stand that was behind the bleachers and away from most of the action.
In subsequent years, I brought sunscreen or stopped at the gas station beforehand to buy some. But from then on, I was known as the coach that had to sit out the camp because I got a sunburn.
Now, I have decided that I need to basically get a base tan (burn) in order to not be a summer vampire. I have a rule of five minutes when getting sun. Five minutes for the front and five minutes for the back. This allows me to get some sun exposure but nothing too hostile.
On Memorial Day, I sat outside on my deck and went five minutes, both sides, twice. Although it may not be noticeable to anyone, it might be the only way that I can get any sort of color. After going back in to cool off, I applied sunscreen and went back outside to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.
My wife and I joke about how we would fit in Victorian England with our alabaster skin as we both burn very easy. It is hard enough to dodge the heat in the summer, but when you always have to have a bottle of sunscreen on you in case you are standing in a field, it can wear on you.
Despite all that, summer is my favorite time of year. I enjoy getting outside, wearing T-shirts and shorts, grilling and having campfires. So, I’ll grab my bottle of sunscreen, venture outdoors and enjoy a beautiful Minnesota summer.
Zach Stich is the managing editor at the Fergus Falls Daily Journal.