It’s September. The extra depth of the blue skies seems especially designed to show off the golds and reds of autumn leaves. It’s an invigorating time, when the warm days and crisp evenings foster grandiose plans for finishing all those summer projects that seemed like such good ideas in June but somehow got stalled about mid-July.
And, in our part of the world, it’s the time when it’s finally safe to be outside.
All summer we’ve been warned about the hazards of the summer sun. Unless we’re slathered in quadruple layers of sunscreen, it’s a no-no to go out in the middle of the day. Melanoma, after all, could be only one bad sunburn away. Early morning and evening are the only safe times to be outside.
Okay, that’s fine. Except for the other, contradictory warnings about mosquitoes. They’re not just an annoyance any more; they carry West Nile virus. This is an unlikely threat, but still a genuine one. One of my friends is recovering from a bout of West Nile that left her out of commission for three weeks. And, of course, the time that mosquitoes are most active is early morning and evening. At dusk and dawn it’s not wise to even go out to get the newspaper without first saturating yourself with bug repellent.
Combining sunscreen and bug spray is always an option, I suppose. Except what if they cancel each other out? Or, as some study is sure to prove one of these days, maybe the combination produces some chemical or other that’s deadly to the human liver.
The other choice is to take advantage of the small windows of time in between the sunburn risk and the mosquito risk—maybe from 8:03 to 8:26 in the morning and 6:12 to 6:39 in the evening. It’s a challenge to get all your yard work, swimming, bicycling, and picnicking done in that amount of time.
The third choice would be simply to give up and spend the summer indoors, watching television and playing computer games. Then we could be assured of staying safe—at least right up until the time we expired from morbid obesity.
But for now, we can forget all these worries and warnings. We’ve had the first frost. The sun is shifting to the south, and the mosquitoes are gone until next summer. It’s fall. It’s beautiful outside. Enjoy.