Being outside and basking in the final weeks of spring, a time when even the smallest backyard is a social venue, play area ore barbecue station, is an unofficial kickoff for summer.
The backyard, with its concrete surface or tomato garden or swimming pool or spacious lawn, trees and hedges, will often be the place where you spend the most time outdoors. It will be the place where you commiserate and cook with friends, recline poolside for hours of intermittent reading, phone calls and sleep, and exercise by way of cutting the grass and trimming the bushes.
And yet, most people do not consider a backyard – going outside, to do things in your backyard – the same as being outdoors. News flash: unless your backyard has a retractable roof, air conditioning and panels to block exposure from ultraviolet (UV) rays and repel insects without the use of pesticides, you are, indeed, outside; which means your skin is vulnerable to the many forces arrayed against it from the heat and humidity of summer in the East to the dry air and arid climate of the West to the barrage of allergies and pests (namely, mosquitoes) that will, respectively, leave you in tears, and itching and scraping your arms, chest, shoulders and face.
The point is we need to end this suspension of disbelief between bringing the necessary gear for a day at the beach or an afternoon in the woods – between carrying the requisite sunscreen, water, sun hats, healthy snacks and appropriate clothing – and spending the same amount of time, with none of these things, in a backyard.
I write these words as both a plea for public safety and as a professional inspired to help people. For, as the Founder of Kiss My Itch Goodbye®, which is an organic means of alleviating the symptoms of chronic itch and irritated skin, I know all to well that a backyard, particularly one within my beloved District of Columbia and the neighboring states of Virginia and Maryland, is very much part of the outdoors. There is no invisible barrier between that land and the adjacent environment.
The challenge is this: we need to recognize that this dividing line does not exist, that a fence may enclose your property but it is not – and it cannot be – a blockade from Mother Nature.
We must protect ourselves, in the most natural and holistic way possible, against the threats that can make the outdoors a battleground.
We must, for example, be as diligent about our health and wellness when we are outside, so we will not suffer (and sneeze and scratch) when we go inside.
We know what to do, and why and when to do these things, with regard to camping and canoeing, and hiking and climbing; to making every summer weekend an outdoor adventure, and every weeknight excursion a fun expedition.
Now, we must ensure we do likewise whenever we go outside.
We must be as safe and healthy, in the backyard, as we are elsewhere.
We must always be mindful of the benefits – and avoidable dangers – of the outdoors.
Make it a summer worth remembering, not a trio of months you wish to forget.
Posted on WholeFoodsMagazine.com 5/29/2015