I come alive in September. It restores me in so many ways: the humidity and heat of summer are waning and the crisp, cool air of fall enters into my being, invigorating everything in me.
I do not do well in summer, with weeks of high humidity. In fact, this summer, I sat by our apartment poolside for hours with my sun-loving friends, visiting from more overcast sections of the country. This, for me, was a sacrifice of love, because besides this year’s very high humidity, I do not usually enjoy sitting for hours with sun beating down on my head, neck, face and limbs.
I could cover myself up more, block the sun, in addition to my SPF 45, but then I remind myself of the grotesque picture of (me) in Dan Greenburg’s (meant to be) hilarious book, How to Be a Jewish Mother, where (his) mother is seated on her chaise at the beach under her umbrella, clothed, hat-ed, and covered-up at a level that clearly cries out: I am not, nor will I ever be, a beach sort of gal. That’s me. But, I try to pretend, so as not to resemble me too much.
In any case, I did do the sun thing several days this summer, resulting in what I thought was sun-heat-induced eczema, breaking out all over my neck and scalp. Very depressing.
I looked up the condition online (always a mistake) and decided it must be seborrhea. I have a good friend at church who is a dermatologist, and I knew I should be going to him professionally to get the real diagnosis, but I resisted, because I don’t like medication and online it said it would be steroids.
So I bought some cortisone cream, which worked somewhat, but what really did well was the concoction my herb-wise friend Linda, who, when I told her I had eczema, put together for me, a salve of olive oil, comfrey and arbor vitae. She’s my herb-mountain lady. She got the recipe from her own herb-wise friend.
A few days later, I ran smack into my dermatologist friend at a church barbecue; so what was I to do? Even though I had decided it would be wrong to ask him for a diagnosis outside of his professional office, here he was, right in front of me. I told him about my self-diagnosed eczema; he took a look at the blotches on my neck and informed me it was not eczema. “You have polymorphous light eruption,” he said, with a straight face, which amazed me. I love having a disease no one has ever heard of, if it’s not terminal or lethal. Ha, Ha. He referred me to a dermatological website written by New Zealand doctors, where I read all about my ailment. My doc friend told me women from places like Norway get this skin condition when they holiday at the Mediterranean and sit in the sun and are not used to sun. So, here I got this European woman disease right here in Connecticut, and didn’t even get to go to the Mediterranean.
Linda’s salve did work on this, as well, even though we had believed it was for eczema. (Linda also warned that some think arbor vitae can be poisonous, so the recipe is important.)
In any case, September rolled around, bringing cooler temperatures, fresh air, lower humidity, and with those, the real cure for my polymorphous light eruption: September. The P.L.E. is gone.
Besides better skin, in September, I think better, feel better, walk more, and generally feel energized. I start to believe again, as I do every fall, that I can do almost anything--even live longer. I get more creative, do more for my businesses, feel more inspired. September is my tonic.
I love September.