By Trina Machacek

The sun with all its warmth and sunny disposition is my friend. Turning my face towards the big yellowness makes my heart sing. No matter what the season. However, I don’t tan very well. I attribute it to my subcutaneous layer making me akin to what could only be described as a piece of bacon lying on a hot enough to fry an egg sidewalk. I’ll just fry.

With that knowledge it is strange to me to think how much I like to sit in the sun. You would think after all the skin I have shed by peeling after getting sunburnt in my younger years when I could come in red as a radish and just as crisp, that eventually I would learn my lesson. This year I finally got there.

Over many years of seeing girls browning and getting a summer glow and guys with farmer’s tans that would put a chestnut mare to shame one would think I would give up the dream of glowing through summer. And not in a glow in the dark way because of the BTUs I was putting out. Yikes. But! Yes a browned “but.” This summer was different. This summer I found myself chasing shade instead of sun.

Oh don’t get me wrong. I didn’t give up the idea of a lovely tan completely. I, like many “glow in the dark” white skinners, have tried the lotions and potions that promise to chemically turn my skin a lovely shade of—ORANGE! Let alone give off a wonderful aroma of something that is actually indescribable. Well except for saying once you smell it you will never forget it. Now, now don’t judge. Vanity does very strange things to better judgment.

Sometime between the 1960’s and the 1980’s tan promising oils and butters… Yes! Oils and butters. Those were thankfully replaced with sunblock lotions that keep skin safe from the unhealthy rays of the summer sun. Those older slathered on products actually were like putting oil in a pan before throwing in pork chops to sizzle them to a crispy doneness.  Old tanning products were replaced with creamy skin and life saving potions that sometimes smell like coconuts and pineapples. You know things that are often found on the beach.  I so have to find THAT beach.

It was but for the Grace of God that I have not had trouble from the sun which I sat or laid under for a few years. Then I learned that it is most important to stay out of the sun as much as possible. Especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Four hours when the sun is at its most penetrating evilness. Which is all but impossible if you hold a job where you are out in the sun. Like a life guard. A friend of mine told me that lifeguards are the only ones that can live with a white cream slathered nose and not get any ribbing about it.
I suppose that may be true.

Summers are hot. On that we can agree. It has never been important to me where the shadiest spot will be.  As I said before I like the sun and all it pours out on me. This year though I found more and more that shade was whispering to me. I love being outside and doing outside stuff. I draw the line at sweating.

I found I don’t like to sweat. I realize it is a way to cool us off. Sweat, breeze, cool. A fine system. That sticky part is not the best part of the system. And um, the odor leaves something to be desired. Since I don’t enjoy sweating I found myself looking for shade more than usual this year.

I noticed this summer that more of my friends are fair-haired or lighter skinned and some are taking medicines that are not sun friendly. So this year as I spent time outside with friends, instead of basking in my warm sunshine I found I was sitting in the shade. It was strange at first, chasing shade.

Outside early the sun/shade fight is won by the warmth of the morning sun but as the sun claws up into the sky hot penetrating rays become stronger waking up sweat glands. Then paths to shade became where I scurried. Under this tree, standing on that side of the house, under an awning, behind a car with the back hatch up. Moving my hammock that is mounted on a frame suddenly was being moved from sunny spots to just right spots of shade that moved with the sun.

I’m here to tell you that chasing shade is tons tougher than following the sun.

Trina lives in Eureka. Her funny book “They Call Me Weener” is available on or email her at to get a signed copy.