harley hay

Harley Hay: It’s no fun getting too much sun

It’s been a pretty rare week for good old central Alberta. Official weather people called it a “heat wave.” Technically, that’s translated from the Anglo Saxon: ‘heat’ meaning ‘hot’ and ‘wave’ meaning ‘enough to fry an egg on your forehead.’

As referenced earlier, we don’t get many official heat waves around here and for some of us that’s kind of a good thing. If you’re like me when the wave hits I stagger to the nearest air conditioned indoor space or failing that, I usually make like a mole and head to the dark basement of our house which is the coolest (temperature-wise) place I can find without knocking on the neighbour’s door. The neighbours, you see, have a nice big air conditioning unit attached to their house and during those days where it feels like I’m melting like the Wicked Witch of the West I am positively green with envy.

My motto is: it’s no fun getting too much sun. That’s a little rhyme I just made up that you can use to remind yourself and the youngsters in your life to be careful not to get fried when it’s hot out, and you’re welcome. And here’s a phrase I didn’t make up: been there, done that.

I well remember the worst time the sun was mean to me. My fault of course, you don’t mess with Mother Nature. Our travelling band of young rockers was in Waterton Lakes one very hot July weekend, and unfortunately there wasn’t a lake to be seen. We had spent the day lounging around a treeless campground in the rare rays of a blazing sun that felt like at least 200 degrees in any scientific measurement.

By the time it was to take the stage at the dance hall a couple of us more sun-sensitive types were seriously sun-burned and brain-fried. There’s a reason they call it “sun stroke.” I faintly recall drowning myself in an entire can of Solarcaine First Aid Pain Reliving Spray backstage and then lurching out to pound on drums at 200 decibels in hot stage lights for four hours. The rest of that shaky, woozy, wobbly night and most of about a week following, remains a giant blurry black hole in what’s left of my memory.

Many years later, there was a heat wave one summer and our timing couldn’t have been worse. The Better Half happened to be about 12 months pregnant with our second Rotten Kid at the time and she was, shall we say, a wee bit large and a wee bit uncomfortable. One scorching Saturday afternoon I had set up the little inflatable kiddie pool in the backyard so that the first Rotten Kid, the son one, could splash around and cool off a bit.

I come outside from hiding in the basement and the B.H. is half-sitting, half-laying in a tiny half-crushed kid’s swimming pool and she’s looking – and I have to be careful here – looking quite a bit like a large sea mammal stuck on a beach in six inches of water. But, I hasten to add, still looking very attractive as usual.

I turned to run for the camera, of course, but was immediately forbidden to take any photos, video, audio or related media of the said Better Half and her backyard pregnancy heat wave desperation dip in the pool.

But I got to sit in a lawn chair and watch her try and get out of what was left of the tiny plastic pile of pool.

Who said you can’t have fun in the sun?

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. Send him a column idea at harleyhay1@hotmail.com.