A Rare Day In June

Roses

 

As I drove around doing errands my eyes kept being drawn to the beautiful blossoming trees and bushes on the local lawns and roadsides. The town I live in is truly filled with beautifully kept homes and gardens. People here take pride in the appearance of their homes and everywhere you drive in Grafton there is beauty to be seen. As I drove I thought how eloquently the green grass, the freshness of the leaves, and the tidy gardens spoke of the loveliness of the beginning of summer. It is nearly time for the solstice. June 21 will bring the onset of the long hot bright days of June, July and part of August.

When I was a child I could hardly wait for these wonderful summer days: free time, swimming, sitting in my favorite tree reading, all these activities and more awaited me. As a young adult with my children in tow, on any sunny day I headed for the beach, meeting friends and chatting over iced tea as we watched over our little ones. However, as an elder, I confess that I cringe at the prospect of these long, hot days. The heat of the summer hours robs me of my ability to think and makes it harder for me to sleep at night. I have to lurk indoors with the air conditioner going, hurrying out of the house for an exercise walk either first thing in the morning or later on toward sunset.

Too, the sun is not as benign as it used to be. The thinning of the atmosphere due to global warming has increased the potency of the sun’s rays, necessitating cover-ups and hats, not to mention sunscreen and sun glasses. Remember rushing out to get a tan at the beginning of summer? The “healthy tan” we all used to crave is less desirable now. It’s almost as though we need to go back to Victorian times when pale skin was a sign of beauty. Now it could be a sign of care for one’s health. I remember when I was in college skipping a class I disliked to sit out on the porch roof with my friends so we could “work on our tans,” as we used to say. The idea was to increase the effect of the sun with tanning lotion rather than block it with sunscreen.

I regret that the onset of the summer heat and more especially the humidity takes more out of me than it used to do. I’d love it if I had a personal air conditioner I could wear around my neck that would provide me with a cooling breeze when I need to be refreshed from the heat. Even so, there are some delights that nothing can spoil. Yesterday, as I walked past a wild rose bramble my nose caught the sweet scent of the tiny white blossoms snuggled into some trees by the side of the road. I stopped and inhaled, taking time to smell these very special June treats. The present moment joy is what matters, not the prospect of discomfort, and at least I do have the benefit of the air conditioner in our apartment. Indeed, what is can possibly be so rare as a day in June when it brings me gifts like the wafting glory of these tiny June treats.

Tasha Halpert

 

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Soaking by Tasha Halpert

Tree, Leaf and Puddle    When I was small if I got a cut my mother often put iodine on it. I hated that because it stung like anything, and it turned my finger orange. Sometimes she used alcohol, which was equally bad. As a somewhat clumsy and heedless child I often fell down, banged myself, cut myself or otherwise got scraped up, so I was well acquainted with these disinfectants and the white Band-Aids that always hurt when they were pulled off.

As an adult I prefer something easier and more pleasant: soaking. I thought about this recently as I soaked my sore finger. I had stuck with a knife and the small wound was bothersome. As I did so it I thought of how well the application of hot water works to heal small cuts and infections as well as reduce swellings. Over time it speeds up the healing process and prevents infections from spreading. Heat is a remarkable healer. However I would probably have been too impatient as a child for soaking.

Heat also can work wonders in other ways. Last month I pulled a muscle in my thigh. Nothing seemed to help or make it better until my acupuncturist suggested applying a heating pad to it three times a day for twenty to thirty minutes. The pain soon diminished and it took only about a week or so to go away completely. Soaking the sore muscle in heat did the trick. Combined with a bit of patience, soaking is good medicine.

Soaking has a number of virtues. An important aspect of the soaking process, however, is time. For instance, the best way to clean a sticky, gummy pot, pan or dish is to soak it for a while. Often hot water is all that is needed to resolve whatever has adhered itself to the utensil. Occasionally the addition of soap or a scrubbing sponge helps. Once again, soaking plus time equals situation resolved. It is remarkable how much hot water helps to resolve a difficult or even a painful problem.

Stains on clothing also respond to soaking, though sometimes it is cold water that is wanted rather than hot, depending on the stain. Soaking also works as well for physical aches and pains. When the body is achy, one of the great luxuries in life is a hot bath in which to soak. Epsom salts, an inexpensive remedy added to the hot water in the tub increases its efficacy.

In today’s fast paced world impatient people often seek speedy resolutions. Medicine must work overnight if not immediately. With the correct chemicals clothes, pots and pans must sparkle right away. This attitude doesn’t allow for the gentle, safe application of time and soaking. An old fashioned way of doing things can often be more effective, less expensive and in many ways perhaps easier over all.