Sunny Memories

by Willa Condy, Trail, BC

As temperatures go up I am slathering on the sunscreen. Now I don’t leave home without it. As a teenager I was not so careful of my skin.

Remember the baby oil trend? Slather on the baby oil and bake in the sun. My girlfriends would lay out on the beach and tan. It was a fun time to talk about boys, music, books… okay mainly boys.

I am fair skinned and tanning has never worked well for me. I have the burning down pat. The getting and keeping a tan not so much.

My friends were better at tanning and at the end of the summer would have a healthy glow to their skin. I was proud of my tan until someone would walk up and asked when I was planning to try to get a tan.

I would lay out, complaining at the end of the afternoon about the lack of colour. By the time I got home the colour would be appearing. Not tan, more the scarlet range.

My grandmother Danny had a remedy for sunburn. It is using cold tea and sponging it on the burn. My mother would make an extra pot of tea for me and I would faithfully sponge the cold tea on the hot burn. I guess the tannic acid in the tea actually helps the skin after a burn.

One tanning session I was char broiled and so was my girlfriend. This is the time before cordless or cell phones. My mother talked to her mom and they both relayed messages between my friend and I as we were both doing our fried chicken impression in bed.

After a few years of burning every summer I saw the light, well, the shade anyways.

I started to use sunscreen, and the amount of sunburns decreased.

We went to Florida one winter and I had a wonderful time wandering around Butterfly World near Fort Lauderdale. I loved the day but hated the evening. We were driving up to Orlando and by the time we got there it was dark outside. No matter – I was glowing like a beacon. It was such a bad burn the Better Half suggested we go to a drugstore and find out what we could do to sooth the burn. We went and stocked up on anti sunburn agents, aloe vera for one.

I ended up picking up some tea and went back to Danny’s cure. Dabbing cold tea was not a romantic way to spend a holiday but it did help.

I would love to say that was my last bad sunburn but I would be lying. We have done a few winter cruises and even though I try I usually end up burning my nose or my face. When I went on our last camping trip I ended up burn free except for my nose, which still shows a slight degree of shine.
When we went on a cruise through the Panama Canal one lady ran up and laughed at my outfit. I had on a wide hat, long sleeved shirt, sunglasses so I guess I didn’t look terribly summery to her. Okay, the photo vest overtop didn’t really scream summer, just a fool with a camera. As we loaded the buses for our shore excursion I could still hear her laughing.

We were in Columbia that day and didn’t get back to our ship for six hours. It was wonderful, we rode on an old train then floated down the river in a boat. We were lucky to actually see some sloths on the trip. I kept reapplying my sunscreen, especially on my nose. I could feel the heat starting to come off my nose.

When we got back to the ship I was tired but not terribly sunburned. I did spot the lady who had run up to me to laugh at my summer attire.

It was hard to miss her. She was burned from her head down to her toes. I felt a little sorry for her.

One item I always have with me now when we travel. Some orange pekoe tea bags packed just in case. You never know when you will need a dab of tea.