Sun Is Fuel

If you think this blog post is going to be about solar energy for creating electricity or hot water…think again. This blog post is about the basic, primal, human need for sunshine. Or, let’s be even clearer, my basic, primal human need for sunshine.

For some reason, this winter I went into the cold darkness kicking and screaming and crying like a 4-year-old fighting going to bed. And the deeper into winter we get here (snow, ice, day after day of grey, heavy skies), the harder it gets for me to pretend to be happy.

I know that sunshine creates vitamin D and makes me happier, but when it’s below freezing every day and I work inside all day, it’s hard to get more outdoor sun time than the minute it takes to run from the door to the car, let alone the recommend 15 minutes a day. And a weekly run with everything covered but my nose and eyes wasn’t enough to do it. So my 13-year-old and I decided to make an emergency trip to Florida for a long weekend of intensive vitamin D infusion.

We chose Sunny Isles because the water looked turquoise (it was), and we could take an easy flight from our local airport without dealing with the hassle of Miami or New York. OK, I’ll tell you the truth: We originally wanted to go to Turks and Caicos, but since we were only booking a week in advance, we checked Accuweather and, lo and behold…NO SUN! Why bother?! Southern Florida looked like it would have some sun, and temperatures in the mid 70s. The easy flight was an added bonus.

So here is where I get really politically incorrect: I love sunbathing. I love getting tan. Our goal was to maximize our sun exposure without injury and serious burn. And, I use sunscreen sparingly, if at all. What do I use? Coconut oil for cooking. Yes, I told my daughter, we want to bake like potatoes in the oven with oil. (Gasp!) We had a jar of certified-organic coconut oil for cooking that I bought at the supermarket, and it smelled good. Real good. And it felt divine as we rubbed it into our stark-white bodies. My theory is that if you can eat it, then it’s not toxic to put on your skin. We soaked up what sun we could find like two cars at a gas station soaking up fuel. On the last day it was cloudy, rainy, and windy and I STILL lay out by the pool. Suffice it to say I was the only one out there.

We were careful. We got a poolside cabana for the noon hours. As hard as we tried, we didn’t even get any burns. We felt pretty tan until a woman on the plane home asked us where our tans were if we went to Florida. And then we cried. We cried again when we pulled into our driveway just as a giant ice storm started. At least school was cancelled the next day.

But what I really was happy about is that I got my energy back. Aside from the vanity aspect of giving us a bit of color on our skin, I believe that being in the sun restores our spirits, our energy, and our minds. For me, I realized as I soaked up the light with my eyes closed, it’s one of the few times in my life in which I’m not really doing anything. I’m not getting anything done. I’m not sleeping, I’m not reading, or doing chores or working. I’m resting. (I admit I was also listening to my whole collection of Kenny Chesney albums.) I’m absorbing the rays of fuel that give me the energy to do what I do…which most people would agree is a LOT.

If I am ever lucky enough to retire, I think I will spend much of my time somewhere in the sun. Probably not Sunny Isles, Florida (too hard to find anything organic!). But maybe Anguilla. That’s my favorite island. In the meantime, I will have to get my sunshine fuel whenever and wherever I can.

My happiness depends on it.


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16 Responses to Sun Is Fuel

  1. Donna in Delaware February 2, 2011 at 9:57 am #

    I must admit that I am not a summer person, but every now and then I get a hankering for an island to visit for 2 weeks. The cold, snow and cloudy days don’t really bother me. It’s the ICE that drives me mad!!! Yesterday I was watching tv about places in the sun and I really wanted to be there, just for a few days, otherwise I tend to get bored.

    My husband is the hot weather person, and is always dropping hints about moving back to Florida (NOT!!) I’ll move to Southern Switzerland, the Italian speaking part where the weather is lovely in winter. We went looking for a place there a few years ago. Didn’t find anything that we really liked, except a house located on the side of a mountain with exquitiste views, a pool and somewhat remote. It just so happened that my husband knew the person who owned the place. The man is still trying to sell it to us! It’s not happening. Maybe we’ll try again in a few years.

    Don’t worry Maria, it’ll be spring before you even realize it! Time is moving fast. Soon you’ll be putting out plants and growing things. In the meantime, try to relax and cook some more of those wonderful meals with the foodstuff you froze from last summer. Get some more sunshine from that great tomato sauce of yours and dream of better days ahead.

  2. Leah February 2, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    I’m with you. Finding it harder each day to pretend to be happy and get out of bed. And the only common denominator is no sun. Life is actually pretty good otherwise.

    Spring can’t come quickly enough!

  3. maria (farm country kitchen) February 2, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

    Today’s weather isn’t helping! Electricity just came back on (I’ve lost power 5 times today — always in the middle of a really good sentence!). Ice, fog, cold….I think I’ll make a Pina Colada Float!

  4. Helen February 2, 2011 at 6:37 pm #

    Sun-deprived? I thought you acquired one last year :-D!

  5. Jen Latwis February 2, 2011 at 10:56 pm #

    Hi Maria – This post rings particularly true for me, too. Since 12/25/10, around my neck is a necklace shaped like a rose with tiny crystals within (like rain drops) given to me by my thoughtful sister in law, Sheila. On the underside, it is inscribed “Live in Sunshine.” When I’ve had enough of the cold, the dreariness, I look down at my little rain-dropped rose, close my eyes and think of Florida…specifically, clearwater beach, beautiful and eco friendly fav hotel Sandpearl with it’s winding pool, gorgeous waterfalls, think of the hot sun on my face and the WONDERFUL creamy pina coladas(the Float sounds incredible)…and I’m just a LITTLE happier. Every year, I think about moving. Never do. I wonder if I ever will. Come April, we’ll be reading about your love for the SPRING, and I think that renewal is cathartic, a subliminal reason why we put up with this dreariness and grey. Floridians/Californians, do you think it’s worth it?

  6. James Early February 3, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

    I just keep looking at the seed catalogs and knowing that all this snow and ice has to melt sometime.

  7. Mike Lieberman February 4, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

    Winter 2010 was the first time that I truly felt seasonal depression living in NYC. I’m much happier on the left coast with the sun. It’s vital.

  8. Ann L. Detjen February 5, 2011 at 4:24 am #

    Maria, I enjoyed your story. Isn’t it fantastic doing something fun and spontaneous like you did with your daughter? Those times are priceless. I too am sick and tired of winter in Kentucky. Snow, shovel, more snow, more shovel, etc. Spring can’t get here fast enough. We too are going through the organic and heirloom seed catalogs planning our spring garden. Tomorrow we’ll be one day closer to spring, thankfully.

  9. Lacy February 5, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    Loved your blog, and it brought a smile to my face, since I wouldn’t live anywhere but Florida (and part of the year in France)…Swam in the backyard pool last week, and will again this week, with the sun to dry me. And we have all the organic food you could want right here in the Tampa Bay area. Paradise, just paradise HERE as all of you THERE dig out again from the ice and snow!!

  10. maria (farm country kitchen) February 5, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    dang you Lacy! There’s more ice coming down now….;-)

  11. Lacy February 5, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    Oh Jen, your necklace sounds lovely! Florida is as it sounds and what you think of in Clearwater Beach is spot on for Tampa Bay. You should move if you want to do it! I made a pact with myself to never wear long pants again, and I don’t. We have 3 growing seasons for tomatoes, although the Midwest soil is better than our sandy soil, we have fresh tomatoes year-round (just 2 months in the summer are too hot for them.) We find ways to celebrate the seasons (I have been known to turn on the air conditioner to build a fire in the fireplace for the winter ambience) but we never suffer from the winter blues! There is something about jumping into the Gulf of Mexico or the pool in February that is pure joy!

  12. Jen Latwis February 5, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

    Thanks, Lacy for the reply! I’m so jealous!
    The tomatoes, the ocean, sweet sunshine what more do I need!
    Hang in there Mike!
    Ann- what a gret idea to start looking ahead at the garden plans about now!

    Sunshine is FUEL- now I gotta go get me “somma that”

  13. Barbara February 5, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    Dr. Weil doesn’t approve of cooking with or ingesting coconut oil.

  14. maria (farm country kitchen) February 5, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    I only rub it on my skin!

  15. Myra February 8, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

    I just keep telling myself that, in the middle of summer, I will be dreaming of cooler days – just not the ongoing snowy days. It is a good thing we have changing seasons. Each one makes us wish of the other. Never satisfied for long, are we.
    I sit by the sunny window and soak it up when the afternoon sun is shining through. My office only gets sunshine in the early morning.
    Don’t you think it is interesting when Mother Nature gives us rain or snow and sunshine at the same time?
    Visit me here to learn ways to have better health

  16. Becky February 18, 2011 at 11:07 am #

    Ohhhhh Maria!
    I long for sun~ beautiful warm mornings~ my husband and I have been remodeling our home room by room since Dec.26th, well we have 1 bathroom done! But it has passed the time so we don’t think about winter too much until you have to chip the ice away to get out of the door! We are both sun babies, so I really soaked in your blog today~ and feel so much better~ lo and behold Old man Sole is smiling today! Yippee! I am booking a vacation today! Enjoy! 😀

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