By Amy McCollom
They say you learn something new everyday. Some days that thing you learn can save your life, or protect you in some way. Other days you learn useless facts or silly jokes and limericks. It’s a crap shoot, really.
Yesterday I was at a store when everyone went running to the front window. There was a small blaze of fire in the parking lot. Apparently someone had discarded a lit cigarette butt into the wood mulch around the landscaping and bushes, and it caught on fire.
Had it not been for the quick action of passersby, store employees, and others who came running out of nearby stores with containers of water to put out the flames, cars parked close by could have easily gone up in flames too.
I had never thought much about where I parked in a parking lot, but I definitely will now. With the dry summer air and heat, it would not take much for other landscaped areas to become prone to fire as well. I’m beginning to think using mulch or wood chips isn’t a very safe landscaping material at all.
Summer barbecues, weiner roasts, cookouts, or whatever you call getting together to cook food outside with a bunch of friends, it’s all fun and games until somebody has to go to the ER. Making fire has always been a sign of power and dominance since the cavemen walked the earth, and it’s no different today. The bigger the fire, the greater the gush of testosterone, I think. You don’t have to just rub two sticks together, but there is a right and wrong way to start a fire. Never, and I repeat in all capital letters, NEVER USE GASOLINE TO START A FIRE. I am amazed whenever I hear of a story where someone gets blown in the air or injured badly from putting a little gas on a campfire. Just. Don’t. Do. It. Smokey the Bear says no, don’t make him come looking for you.
Poison ivy is pretty easy to recognize, if you are looking for it. Honestly, though, I’m not always looking for it, and neither are my kids. It is pretty much a guarantee that somebody in our families will get a rash this summer. It is always good to get a doctor’s advice on what kind of ointment to use right away. Some rashes are like fingerprints and a physician can know instantly what can solve the problem. Don’t waste time playing a guessing game. Summer is short enough without waiting for a rash to disappear before you can enjoy it.
Do you like to camp? My inner cavewoman must be a wimp because I don’t think going out into the woods and living like you are homeless for a week is relaxing. My son went camping in a really nice tent that we bought him for Boy Scout camp several years ago. The very first night of sleeping in it, three raccoons chewed through the tent fabric about 3 a.m., and he ended up in an armed battle with the little forest ninjas until he abandoned his tent to them around 5 a.m., and retreated to the mess hall.
When not in my own bed, I like sleeping in an air-conditioned hotel room with Egyptian cotton sheets and cable tv. I don’t like sleeping on the ground in a fabric hut or being awakened by hand-to-hand combat battles with forest creatures in the middle of the night. Or sweating. Or mosquitoes. And I don’t like having to make fire before cooking the simplest of food, and for that matter, I don’t like the simplest of food. See where this is going?
One thing I have learned over the course of the pandemic is that I like to be left alone. I like to hear myself think, and a quiet house is the perfect atmosphere to pray and read and pet my cat. Home is my happy place.
Summer is just starting, and there are a million things to learn. Watch, listen, keep an open mind; just wait and see what knowledge will come and light upon you like a Monarch on your shoulder. Then share it, because lessons learned should be lessons taught. Stay safe, my friends.