These bizarrely cool summer days have made me want to be outside even more than usual. “More than … what?,” I can hear echoing from Memphis to Minnesota, but the reality is, I like the outdoors. I do. I like hiking and biking and swimming in natural bodies of water. I like trees and flowers and birds and fuzzy little woodland creatures. I like the idea of getting outside the house and exploring my own environment. The problem is, my mental appreciation of nature is at odds with my physical tolerance for it.
For starters, I’m allergic to outside. I have spring hay fever, fall hay fever, and intermittent spells of summer hay fever. I’m of northern European stock, and not genetically pre-disposed for year-round pollen. Worse than what reacts with my system, however, is what is attracted to my system. I am a mosquito magnet. There are people who are barely noticed by bugs, there are people who have a normal adversarial relationship with them, and then there are those of us who cannot step outside between March and November without being swarmed. If I sit on my porch for one minute, I will go back inside with no less than half a dozen fresh bites. In one DEET-soaked evening on the patio, I racked up 30 new welts, including five on my face and more than ten on my fully-clothed back. I try to suffer through it for the sake of enjoying my yard, but histamines will only be ignored so long.
The mosquitoes have a harder time getting me when I’m moving, but exercising, and especially exercising outdoors in the summer, is tough for me. Not because I’m averse to activity or too delicate to sweat, but because I actually cannot sweat. I don’t suffer from complete hydrosis, but the strange truth is, my face doesn’t sweat. At all. I could work out for an hour and there wouldn’t be a drop of perspiration on my brow. Instead, there would just be an oily sheen over my bright red face as I staggered around like a drunk arctic puffin. I actually switched to a deodorant that doesn’t contain anti-perspirant after realizing that being able to use at least one portion of my body’s natural cooling system enables me to spend a longer period in the heat without feeling like I’m going to keel over.
In tragic irony, swimsuit season is my least active time of year, as all the forces of nature push me indoors. So I’m enjoying this respite while I can – taking meals outside, walking every evening - knowing that in a matter of days, my truce with the outdoors will end.