Checklist for Reading Outdoors

You must prepare for the outdoor reading experience.  There are bugs, rabbits, and deer out there.  You’re not planning a trip to the woods but there might be wild animals in the backyard.   

And so I  had a checklist, but was distracted by my friend Elsa’s bragging about her sun sensitivity.

“I always wear a hat,” she said.  “I take an umbrella, too.  I’m just so fair.  I get burned walking from the house to the corner.”

We were in a serious blond-on-blond contest.  “Me, too.  I got a ghastly sunburn in Acapulco.”  Where did that come from?  I may have flown over Acapulco.  I did faint once in the Mexico City subway, though.  

“Acapulco is so touristy, don’t you think?”

“I love it there,” I said. Hm, was it a resort town? But I’m out of my mind when I   get competitive. 

“We spent our honeymoon on a marvelous beach in Portugal.”

“Lovely!”  I ended the blond-on-blond contest, because I’m no longer blond and Niagara Falls isn’t quite as romantic as Portugal. 

I got my worst sunburn in my hometown.

I looked at my checklist before we left.

  •   Straw hat from Cape Cod, bought in a bridal shop, because it was the only straw hat left in Provincetown.  Check.
  •  Regular sunblock,  sunblock for extra-sensitive skin,  then a backup sunscreen in case the regular brand smells too much like coconut.  Check.
  •   Bug spray.  Check.
  •   Long-sleeved blue workshirt to don if the bugs are biting. Check.
  • A thermos of coffee and a bottle of Gatorade. For me.   Water for Elsa, secretly from tap, because we don’t buy water at the store.  Check.
  •   Book bag full of:  John Gardner’s Grendel, aMargaret Millar omnibus, and Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence (reread).  Check.

Our readathon went very well.  Sometimes it’s nice to sit in lawn chairs and read beside a fellow bookworm.

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