Our Alaskan summer is in full swing. People are trading boots for flip flops, snow pants for fishing waders, and broken-in camouflage gear for ... more camo gear (I’m looking at you, Dad). There are sightings of motorcycles, out of state license plates, warm smiles, and the sun that makes an entrance like it’s been gone for eight months wanting to shine so bright it’s almost unbearable for us solar amateurs.
A sad truth about myself is that without sunscreen I get sun burned. That might seem normal to people but it’s news to me, and yes I realize even without the fear of sunburn, sunblock is necessary to war against skin cancer possibilities, but in our house usually the sunblock is for my husband’s alabaster skin. Without it his skin cries out to his animal spirit, the lobster.
Years ago I used to be able to sit in the sun and go from latte to mocha. Now when I sit out in the sun you can read the red braille on my arms. It says, “Reapply sunscreen and welcome to the real world.” Ugh. As if taking Zyrtec to enjoy my backyard wasn’t enough of a reminder of being in my late 20s. Not exactly old, but no spring chicken. Unless you’re my friend, Shwinney (fortunately not her real name), who doesn’t seem to age. It’s both ridiculous and admirable, but oftentimes when she comes over I want to yell at her to get out. Where does she keep her cocoon? I’m ready to move to Florida and name my moped Betty.
I’m not used to waking up to gorgeous sunlight. Maybe it has something to do with the fact an Alaskan summer begins just as quick as when it ends. The sudden change feels kind of rude sometimes. You have to admit, the fact it was snowing on my lawn last month and now I’m mowing my lawn this month is pretty bizarre.
Don’t get me wrong, the sunlight is awesome, but there was no warning. The snow melted in a week and then yards were green and barren. It felt like we had to run as fast as we could to the store or greenhouse, buy flowers to spruce up the place, and build Rome in a day. It wasn’t completely necessary, but helped make our homes look less like a haunted house. Mentally when you are looking at snow outside your window in the month of May, there are only thoughts about Hawaii and self-doubt. Not exactly nice lawns or bug spray. Alas, a few weeks later this time hath come.
Who knew this was the year of the mosquito? I can’t blame them. Those little divas want to shine and think they are entitled to the entire stage. At night time there is always the operatic one that thinks it’s Pavarotti. It sings loud, but when you turn on the light it suddenly shuts up and wants to play hide and seek.
When you’re camping there’s always the angry kamikaze one that tries to dive bomb over and over again. So little, but so angry. And then there’s the ghost ones that drive people to the asylum. You swear it exists, but no one actually sees it except you. Sometimes when it’s just me and another person and they see a mosquito, I pretend not to see it just to watch the person go crazy. It’s hilarious.
Summer time is a great time to hate or love your neighborhood. It can mean people that wave to you while walking their dogs or barking dogs that are left outside for everyone within a mile radius to hear for a couple hours straight. It can mean watching kids practicing tricks on their bicycles or two screaming teenage girls running from a bee at 10 p.m. The latter happened last night, but I have to say, once it was obvious what was happening it was pretty entertaining. Although my kids use sidewalk chalk to draw mazes or hopscotch, I like to draw human outlines and mumble the word “investigation” as people walk by. Neighbors.
Here’s the thing: Lather on the sunscreen so you don’t have to figure out what message the red braille on your arms is trying to tell you. Enjoy being outside. Don’t invest into a moped just yet, go exploring. People with accents come here to experience where we live, we should too! Keep bugging your dad to take you halibut fishing, because salmon fishing is great, but halibut is like a bajillion dollars a pound. Both are culinary gifts. Be a good neighbor if you live in a neighborhood, think of others (it can’t hurt?).
And don’t forget ... kill as many mosquito’s as you possibly can!
Kasi McClure enjoys being a wife and mother of two in Kenai. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.