It’s National Don’t Fry Day. This is another title that got me. I expected something about cooking, good thing I know enough to read further. It’s also National Heat Awareness Day so the days go hand-in-hand. In western New York state this is the long-awaited weekend people go to the lake to open up their summer cottages. If Mother Nature co-operates, the weekend is warm or hot, lots of cobwebs disappear, the beds are made, picnics happen and summer neighbors see their friends.

I remember doing this as a kid. I would sit in the un-air conditioned school room with the sweat dripping under my arms from about the first of May. We couldn’t wait to go to the lake. My summer was spent making a labyrinth of roads on the pebbly beach to “drive” trucks and construction equipment toys around. (We sifted the sand from the pebbles in order to get a smooth surface to make the roads.) We spent hours in the lake, trying to swim above the weeds that felt like monsters trying to grab our legs. We also didn’t step on the muddy lake bottom if possible because we were sure to come out with a leach/bloodsucker attached to our foot. Thinking about picking one off still makes me cringe. Our cottage had no running water or indoor plumbing. There was a pump in the kitchen to get water for washing and cooking and a two-hole outhouse in the woods that I hated to walk to in the dark.  We carried drinking water in jugs from home and did the laundry at a laundromat. Those were the days! Fun for me as a kid, a lot of work for my mother, though I didn’t know it at the time.

I don’t remember using sunscreen as I was never one to get a sunburn. I do remember being so darkly tanned my heritage could be questioned. Thinking back, the city kids tended to use sunscreen, us country kids couldn’t be bothered. I’m lucky to have the gene for good skin. All the hours in the sun haven’t affected my appearance and I’ve been lucky to never have a skin cancer scare. I know other people who have not been so fortunate.

This is the start of Memorial Day weekend in the U. S.. Please take a moment to remember all the fallen military that gave their lives for our country. Freedom isn’t free. And please, if you are going to be out in the sun, do yourself a favor and use sunscreen. Skin cancer kills a lot of people.