It’s that time of the year when I dress with care before going outside, making sure every square inch of skin is covered by long pants, long sleeves, gloves, hat…
No, I’m not bundling up for sub-zero temperatures; I’m just taking my wimpy skin outside on a sunny day. I swear I put on more clothes in the summer than I do in the winter.
I’ve always been an ‘outside’ person. If fate was kind, I’d have been blessed with a leathery hide that tanned effortlessly. Instead, I have fairy-princess skin with a little mushroom DNA thrown in: sickly white, delicate as tissue paper, and just as flammable.
After ten unprotected minutes in the sun I turn a nice shade of parboiled pink. Half an hour and my skin is angry red. If I spend any longer in the sun, it becomes clear why there are legends about vampires combusting in daylight.
I wear an SPF that would allow normal people to bask comfortably on the sunny side of Mercury, but my princess-skin is picky about sunscreen, too. Most sunscreens give me chemical burns, and applying zinc oxide is like rubbing my face with finely-ground glass.
After many trials and errors I’ve found sunscreens my skin can tolerate, and I wear them every day. I’m grateful for them, because I still need their protection even though I wear a hat. But…
I hate them.
I hate the way they feel on my skin. I hate the way dirt and dust sticks to them. I hate the glowing white trails that show up when titanium dioxide slithers down to collect in my wrinkles. I hate the way avobenzone stains my clothes orange in our iron-rich water, and I especially hate that avobenzone is carcinogenic. (Yeah, why don’t I just put a cancer-causing substance on my skin… to prevent skin cancer? WTF?!?)
I especially hate the taste of sunscreen. I know I’m not supposed to eat it, but I have to apply it right around my lips or risk a sunburn that looks like Bozo the Clown. Then all it takes is one ill-advised swipe of my tongue to catch the juice from my morning orange, and I’m making a face like a horse with peanut butter stuck to the roof of its mouth. At least my mother would be pleased to know that I’m finally learning to use a napkin.
Still, I don’t want skin cancer so I keep wearing my icky sunscreen and sweating profusely in my long sleeves, long pants, and hat. I may or may not live longer, but it’ll certainly feel like it.
But the joy of gardening makes it all worthwhile! Here’s what’s new in the garden this week (click on the photos to see larger versions):
Our earliest rhododendron is just starting to bloom. This is Snow Lady – still tiny, but putting on a show!