My smile is about to become inconvenienced. I could blame Global pollution for my troubles.
But I have to take some responsibility. I am a child of the 70s. My childhood was spent outside playing from dawn to dusk in the sun in little more than a T-shirt and shorts. Or endless days in togs in and out of swimming pools or beside the sea building sandcastles in the beachy sand. Without so much as a hat.
As a teenager, we longed for that perfect tan that was perceived as the epitome of good health. No one wanted to be seen as pasty. We lay out there for hours, friends together listening to the likes of Madonna, Def Leopard and Bon Jovi and turned every three songs like sausages on a BBQ. To assist with the gradual colour change we would baste ourselves liberally with coconut oil or baby oil. It was a fine balancing act to bronze without burning. Burning was painful and the peeling that followed would mean having to start the colouring of our skin all over again.
And as an adult I found myself back out in the great outdoors, pottering about in the full sun of summer that my vegetable garden demands. By now the world had become wise to the risks of the harsh sun. It can kill you, and can take the unwary quickly. The mantra ‘slip slop slap’ have become ingrained in our national culture. Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat. A tan is no longer a desirable look for the young things listening to todays latest music.
But I have to confess… the habits of a lifetime are hard to break and my hat is often discarded along the way in the garden as a hindrance. Sunscreen, when I remember to apply it, more often than not is not reapplied as time goes so fast in the garden and as the sun races across the sky in what feels like a heartbeat under the toil of the day, what protection I had applied would have been sweated away. Not that I sweat, because ladies glow. I need to take more care. I protect my garden from all that would harm it. But I need to take time to protect the Gardener.
You see the thing is there is a hole in the ozone right over our beautiful land and the harmful UV rays pound down and cause harm. They fade the colours right out of plastic. A red bucket can become brittle in a season. Polycarbonate greenhouses don’t stand a chance – it isn’t the wind that brings about its demise but the sun. And it also beats down upon the gardener and penetrates beyond skin deep and damages cells.
Recently I noticed a patch of dry skin, just above my smile, that had appeared and was always there and showed no sign of leaving. It soon became a cause for concern and I went to my Doctor who told me if I’d left it, it would become a thing that would turn into the dreaded melanoma. The big C that could swiftly extinguish the bright light of any beautiful soul. Fortunately, this is not my destiny. I have caught it early and with a simple treatment that will inconvenience my smile for a while but I’ll be fine.
My message to you is to stay safe. Protect yourself out there in the garden. Slip slop slap. Re-slop regularly. Keep an eye on any changes in your skin. Don’t think yeah nah – she’ll be right because there is a chance it won’t. Early intervention is important to a long and healthy life.
On a grand scheme of things, you can save lives and reduce the risk for others by the simple act of reducing your waste. Reduce reuse and recycle. Don’t send things to landfill that would break down and release greenhouse gases. Don’t burn plastics, because that is just nasty. While where you are the sun burn time may be hours, not minutes like it is down here – your actions with your environmental responsibilities can actually reduce our risk or cause us harm. We are all part of a global community and what happens on one side of the earth can have a knock-on effect on the other side.
So take care of your gardens and in your gardens and stay safe.
Come again soon – something really exciting has been going on in my garden.
Sarah the Gardener : o)