As long as I can remember, I have not been a lover of the outdoors. It’s not that I dislike the great outdoors. I love to visit our national and state parks. I even like to walk the local hiking trails. The thing is, the outdoors is not my personal default place to be.
Being a fair-haired redhead, I’ve always had to take extra precautions in order to spend much time outside. There is sunscreen to apply, the wearing of caps, knowing where to readily find shade. Plus, the fact that I’ve suffered two scary bouts of heat stroke, make spring and summer outdoor living less pleasant.
This fussy attitude about sunshine and me began when I was an eight-year-old boy. Dad brought his best friend and me to Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, South Dakota for a day of boating on the reservoir. Since our familiar, water-resistant sunscreens were not invented until I had reached adulthood, the best sunburn preventative was primitive suntan lotion. You probably know where I’m going with this.
The combination of intense midday sunshine and its reflection off of the lake’s water caused me to get a severe sunburn. There were no shade trees in the immediate area of the dam, so I had to sit in dad’s non-air-conditioned Buick with all of the windows cranked open. With the hot afternoon air blowing onto my skin, the ride home was Hell on wheels.
After arriving home, mom scolded dad for not paying close enough attention to my physical reaction to the Sun. It was one of the very few times mom ever yelled at dad. I was brought to the family physician so he could offer advise about how to care for my sunburn. The doctor told mom to bathe me in tepid water and apply an ointment that he prescribed. When the ointment was used up, mom was supposed to apply Noxzema skin cream onto the healing skin. (To this day, whenever I see a blue jar of Noxzema, I think about sunburned skin.)
There were other sunburn incidents throughout my childhood and youth, so I’m a bit gun-shy about hot, sunny days. These experiences greatly contributed to my lack of affinity towards the spring and summer. I’d rather stay inside a darkened room with the air conditioning running. I need a lot of motivational self-talk or a yard to mow in order to spend much time outdoors at this time of year.
This aversion to hot sunny weather is why I force myself to celebrate National May Ray Day each year. Since I love holidays, today’s commemoration might be sufficient motivation to go outside and take in the heat, the humidity, and the mosquitoes of Northeast Nebraska. This is all dependent upon whether or not we have a sunny day. If the clouds continue to build, I could be celebrating “May No Rays Day” instead. Of course, I could just follow my contrarian personality and spend the entire day inside my little house.
By the way, the origin of National May Ray Day is attributed to Richard Ankli from St. Joseph, Michigan. He invented the commemoration to honor his brother Ray. Ray’s birthday is May 19th. If you know somebody named Ray or Rae, make sure you greet them with, “Hi May Ray!”
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes President Jimmy Carter. “It is good to realize that if love and peace can prevail on Earth, and if we can teach our children to honor nature’s gifts, the joys and beauties of the outdoors will be here forever.”
Best wishes to you as well.