The Geography of Sunburn

I use sunscreen every day. Religiously. So how did I get my first sunburn in years last week? By not putting sunscreen on all exposed skin, specifically my shoulders. The really puzzling part was why I was more burned on my left shoulder than my right shoulder. What the heck?! Then I realized that while gardening, I had been facingĀ  the front of my house/west so my left shoulder got the southern exposure, aka, extra crispy.

As I shook my head at my own carelessness, I remembered a conversation with a dermatologist years ago, when I was fretting over sun damage on my face, which I declared “too big to be a freckle.” “Why?” he asked. Why indeed? When I went on to announce my plans to always wear sunscreen and a hat he interrupted with “and never leave your house. Listen, just do the best you can. Don’t make yourself crazy with this stuff.” That got my attention. It really would be crazy to stay indoors forever for fear of the sun.

It’s too easy in our wired world to never leave the house or office, to lose touch with basics like the angle of the sun and the feel of the earth between our fingers. That kind of disconnect not only robs us of glorious experiences but also makes it easier to mistreat the environment. “Who cares what it’s like outside? I have air conditioning and a water filter!” When you’re in touch with the natural world, even the world of a single tree, it’s harder to justify not recycling or driving a gas guzzler.

I have my things that I like to do outside– walk, hike, play with the dog, swim, and even garden now, all things that move my body, ease my mind, and soothe my soul. I bet you do too. Let’s make a pact to go play outside more often, not less.

Just remember to put on your sunscreen.


  1. Julie, I enjoyed your post! I’ve been doing a tiny bit of gardening. It’s so good for my soul, and helping me reconnect. More play, and outside. ;-)

    • Julie Corron says:

      Dar, outside is the best! My fairy rose is already blooming too. Talk about instant gratification. Keep me posted on your garden.

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