An invisible gardening hazard

My smile is about to become inconvenienced.  I could blame Global pollution for my troubles.

But I have to take some responsibility.  I am a child of the 70s.  My childhood was spent outside playing from dawn to dusk in the sun in little more than a T-shirt and shorts.  Or endless days in togs in and out of swimming pools or beside the sea building sandcastles in the beachy sand. Without so much as a hat.

Last chance watermelon
A lot of hope in a mild autumn will bring this watermelon to a harvestable state

As a teenager, we longed for that perfect tan that was perceived as the epitome of good health.  No one wanted to be seen as pasty. We lay out there for hours, friends together listening to the likes of Madonna, Def Leopard and Bon Jovi and turned every three songs like sausages on a BBQ.  To assist with the gradual colour change we would baste ourselves liberally with coconut oil or baby oil.  It was a fine balancing act to bronze without burning.  Burning was painful and the peeling that followed would mean having to start the colouring of our skin all over again.

Late sweetcorn
The lateness of the season doesn’t bode well for this sweetcorn but there is always a chance

And as an adult I found myself back out in the great outdoors, pottering about in the full sun of summer that my vegetable garden demands.  By now the world had become wise to the risks of the harsh sun.  It can kill you, and can take the unwary quickly.  The mantra ‘slip slop slap’ have become ingrained in our national culture.  Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat.  A tan is no longer a desirable look for the young things listening to todays latest music.

Broccoli Broccoli side shoots
It has been a good couple of weeks since I took the main head from this plant and the side shoots just keep coming.

But I have to confess… the habits of a lifetime are hard to break and my hat is often discarded along the way in the garden as a hindrance.  Sunscreen, when I remember to apply it, more often than not is not reapplied as time goes so fast in the garden and as the sun races across the sky in what feels like a heartbeat under the toil of the day, what protection I had applied would have been sweated away.  Not that I sweat, because ladies glow.  I need to take more care.  I protect my garden from all that would harm it.  But I need to take time to protect the Gardener.

I think the recent rain has a rhubarb seal of approval – this is best it has looked all season.

You see the thing is there is a hole in the ozone right over our beautiful land and the harmful UV rays pound down and cause harm.  They fade the colours right out of plastic.  A red bucket can become brittle in a season.  Polycarbonate greenhouses don’t stand a chance – it isn’t the wind that brings about its demise but the sun.  And it also beats down upon the gardener and penetrates beyond skin deep and damages cells.

Now the temperatures have dropped, the coriander is much happier and not bolting to seed as quickly.

Recently I noticed a patch of dry skin, just above my smile, that had appeared and was always there and showed no sign of leaving.  It soon became a cause for concern and I went to my Doctor who told me if I’d left it, it would become a thing that would turn into the dreaded melanoma.  The big C that could swiftly extinguish the bright light of any beautiful soul.  Fortunately, this is not my destiny.  I have caught it early and with a simple treatment that will inconvenience my smile for a while but I’ll be fine.

Red pepper
The leaves may change colour in the autumn, but to see the peppers change is a wonderful sight.

My message to you is to stay safe.  Protect yourself out there in the garden. Slip slop slap. Re-slop regularly.  Keep an eye on any changes in your skin.  Don’t think yeah nah – she’ll be right because there is a chance it won’t.  Early intervention is important to a long and healthy life.

Bees in flowers
There are still plenty of bees about, which is just as well as there are plenty of flowers too

On a grand scheme of things, you can save lives and reduce the risk for others by the simple act of reducing your waste.  Reduce reuse and recycle.  Don’t send things to landfill that would break down and release greenhouse gases.  Don’t burn plastics, because that is just nasty.  While where you are the sun burn time may be hours, not minutes like it is down here – your actions with your environmental responsibilities can actually reduce our risk or cause us harm.  We are all part of a global community and what happens on one side of the earth can have a knock-on effect on the other side.

So take care of your gardens and in your gardens and stay safe.

Come again soon – something really exciting has been going on in my garden.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)


13 thoughts on “An invisible gardening hazard

  1. Very very glad that you caugh it so early. It’s nothing to mess with. My son, who is 14, just finished a year of chemo and 2 surgeries fighting stage 3b melanoma. He very fair and hardly ever goes out in the sun, but a few hours can be enough. HE is clear now, but if it can happens can him it can happen to anyone. USE sunscreen, hats, long sleeves, And avoid the burning hours in middle of day outside.

    1. Oh Shannon, I am so pleased your son is well now. It must have been a terrible time for your family. It is no discriminator of age and we are all at risk.
      Your advice is very sound, I hope through this at least one person (although I hope for many) reads this and protects themselves and by doing so changes the direction of their lives for the better.
      Continue to stay safe and healthy.
      Cheers Sarah : o)

  2. I’m also glad you caught it early. One of my friends (from NZ) had to have a series of operations but she is clear now.

    And you are right, we need to work to prevent the atmosphere from further damage.

    1. Hi Helen. I am so pleased your friend is ok now. It is quite a scary thing to have to confront. This is a global problem really, not just for us down here with the hole over our heads. Thanks for commenting. Cheers Sarah : o)

  3. So glad that you caught it early Sarah, and thank you for your good advice! Just to say it is not always a forerunner of the big C. Years ago I went with a dry patch to the doctor who laughed and said, no harm that is normal, it is still there, and it bothers me, when I get back to Ireland I will show it again to the doctor as it certainly does not look normal.

    1. Thanks for your kind words. I think as we get older our bodies get a little battle scarred so it can be difficult to tell what is the passing of time and what is something more sinister. So it always best to check it out. It is better to be safe than sorry. I hope yours continues to be ok. Cheers Sarah : o)

  4. Pollution has an adverse effect on agriculture and plants. There is a need of collective efforts to reduce it by genuine methods. Dumping of waste material is also a huge issue. You have pointed some good solution to protect our garden.

  5. Sarah, this is a beautifully written post. Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m glad you saw your doctor in time and caught this early.

    I’ve had two skin cancer surgeries, one for squamous cell and another for basal cell carcinoma. It was so scary at the time. I was recovering from foot surgery when I had to go in for the MOHS procedure. Being fair-skinned but living in sunny California has its disadvantages. I too need to be better about keeping the hat on. Thanks for sharing this with your readers. Be well.

    1. Hi Alys. I’m so glad you caught yours early too. While it is a tad scary, it is so common here that most people are on the look out for it, so everyone knows someone who has had an early intervention. If you are ever to come to NZ you’ll need the strongest sunscreen and a good hat. Our sun is strong! Enjoy your garden this season – with your hat on. : o)

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