PAT NEAL: In the sky: a bird, a plane, the sun!

THERE WAS A mysterious bright object seen out on the West End the other day.

Some of the locals panicked and called me wondering if it was the end of the world.

Far be it from me to spread fear, innuendo and rumor just to sell a few newspapers, but I saw that same bright light and was just as baffled as anyone.

I remember it like it was yesterday because, well, I guess it was.

We were fishing at daylight in a comfortable overcast of fog and mist sweeping in from the ocean.

All at once, a strange light began piercing the gloom.

The sky took on an ominous blue color.

For a minute, it got so hot I almost took off my survival suit.

I would have dialed 9-1-1 if I remembered the number.

“That sun sure feels good,” my know-it-all friend said.

I knew that.

Every year along about this time, the sun does come out for a while and we just have to deal with it the best way we can.

After a refreshing, rain-drenched winter, it can be a challenge to deal with the bright light of a blue sky and unfiltered sunshine.

I’ve seen people emerge from a winter hibernation in their dens with skin as white as snow, only to blister lobster-red after a few minutes of staring at the sun, wondering what the heck it is.

I’ve seen people who were so severely sunburned after a day of fishing that their eyes swelled shut.

Their burned skin peeled off later, making them look like a molting lizard.

While the social costs of human suffering from exposure to the sun’s harmful rays are often borne by the rest of society, the environmental damage that sunshine represents to our environment is only just now being discovered by modern science.

It’s no coincidence that forest fires seldom start in the rain.

Meanwhile, every summer, millions of acres of our nation’s iconic forests are burned to a crisp after getting dangerously dehydrated by the sun.

Even if the sun’s harmful rays don’t start destructive forest fires, there is still the threat to human health and safety that rears its ugly head higher every day the sun shines: the lawn.

How you deal with the lawn problem is your own business, but I like to park boats on the lawn.

This kills the grass without mowing it.

Often by moving the boats around, it is possible to kill a large enough area to avoid mowing the lawn entirely.

This and other innovative lawn control techniques can not only help lessen your carbon footprint, it allows you to spend more time with family and friends enjoying the great outdoors instead of mowing it.

In the event you are stuck mowing the lawn, it is not uncommon to find yourself being eaten alive by mosquitoes.

Bugs like moisture, and we’ve had plenty enough of that lately to potentially make this summer one of the worst bug years in recent memory.

Bugs are yet another hazardous byproduct of the sun’s harmful rays.

While insect repellents can be very effective, they are expensive, with a variety of unpronounceable ingredients that could pose troubling side effects.

There are any number of old-time pioneer mosquito repellents that work just as effectively if you don’t bathe.

Simply mix a solution of pine tar, castor oil and lavender and apply it to your skin until a tenacious glaze forms.

This will not only repel insects but it will save you a lot of money on soap.

Next week, we’ll deal with that other side effect of sunshine: the tourist threat.

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Pat Neal is a fishing guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via patneal [email protected]