Summer Garden Blur, and Marine Environment-Friendly, Biodegradable Sunscreens

Today is August 15, and the food gardens are getting blurry. The lovely early-season symmetry of straight lines and neat rows is giving way to chaos. Plants have spread to their maximum girth and are invading each other’s space. Tomato, pepper, cucumber, and melon plants are sagging to the ground under the weight of their own production. Weeds that were once scarce and easy to pull have squeezed in and sprouted from nooks and crannies in the confusion. It’s a primeval forest of green, dotted with red and pink (tomatoes) and yellow (Alma peppers). In short, it’s a jungle out there.

This grates on my methodized eye, which longs for Zen simplicity. This is the time of year when I must accept impermanence, release the need for control in the garden, and find beauty in the chaos. Or at least make peace with it.

My husband is great. Last night, he knew without my saying that I couldn’t bear to go out and bushwhack through the gardens to pick veggies. So, he quietly grabbed our gathering basket, went to the gardens, and filled it up. I found the basket of German Pink and Beefsteak tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, green peppers, jalapenos, and cherry tomatoes on the kitchen counter just before bed. I love him so.

Maybe it’s not the disorder that upsets me about the mid-August gardens: it’s that they’re telling the time. The gardens are always the first to let me know that blessed summer is drawing down. The truth of impermanence is never harder for me than when I see summer unwinding.

In New England, winter is long, cold, and stubborn. The first snow is always enchanting, as is the first day of cross-country skiing. The first hot cacao is yummy, and winter hats are awesome. But after the first flush, it gets old fast. I start dreaming hard of summer sometime in early December. And that’s a long way away from June.

Still, this garden chaos is indicative of tremendous bounty, for which I’m grateful. We must go through this final and intense growth in order to harvest everything the gardens have to offer. Like a birth, they’re pushing out and releasing their primal energy, so that life may continue. There’s great beauty and magic in that.

Those German Pinks and Beefsteaks my husband gathered last night are the first ripe large tomatoes from our food gardens this summer. We’ve had cherry tomatoes for weeks, but our big heirlooms have been slow to ripen on the vines. It was thrilling to find them last night. This morning, I peeked at the tomato plants, and sure enough, the big tomatoes are starting to ripen.

Our Thai Pink Egg Tomatoes are also ripening, and there are a lot of them. I think I’ll make an interesting sauce with them. My to-do list today includes finding recipes for Thai Pink Egg tomatoes. Maybe a spicy Massaman curry sauce.

On another note pertaining to summer: as a girl who’s definitely a member of the ‘better safe than sorry’ tribe, I want to withdraw the well-meaning support I’ve given to one of my longtime favorite sunscreens.

I’ve used Coola organic sunscreens for years, but have discovered that the brand contains non-biodegradable nanoparticles called oxybenzones that are damaging marine environments and killing coral reefs worldwide. I was shocked to discover it. I thought only budget brands like noxious Hawaiian Tropic and nasty Coppertone were guilty of this.

Polytechnic University of Marche in Italy concluded a study that reported that approximately 14,000 TONS of oxybenzone-laden sunscreen washes off swimmers worldwide each year. Oxybenzones have contributed to the worst coral reef die-off in the Earth’s history. Forty percent of the Great Barrier Reef has disappeared since the 1980s. Eight-five percent of coral reefs have died in the Caribbean. Ands of today, 99 percent of Florida’s coral reefs have died from human impact.

The Great Barrier Reef is dying at a shocking rate, and coral reefs everywhere, which were once homes to a variety of sea life, are disappearing. For better and deeper information on how sunscreens are wreaking havoc on oceans, check out The Redford Center’s short film, ‘Reefs at Risk’.

Coola is still organic and better for humans and animals than drug story variety, UV-chemical-laced, mega-brands like Hawaiian Tropic, Coppertone, Banana Boat, and the rest. Avoid those under any circumstances. The sunscreen brands Stream2Sea and Goddess Garden are mineral-based, biodegradable, oxybenzone-free, and truly non-hazardous to coral reefs and humans and animals.

I started using Stream2Sea very recently, and love it. It’s harder to find (you have to order it online) and more expensive than mainstream sunscreens, and you must rub it in thoroughly (no problem with that – it’s great lymph massage!), but it works beautifully and harms none. That’s what it’s all about.

Much love,
Barbie xo

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