“A Dose of Sunshine,” May 31, 2022

Sunshine is the best disinfectant. That’s what my mother always said. Actually, she said a lot of things. They took root long ago in my brain and bloom in my memory without warning.

I was 8 when she introduced me to the cleansing power of the sun. She was on the back porch running clothes through the wringer of the washer. I was in the living room watching TV.

“Get out here!” she yelled. “I need help with this wash!”

I had no idea how my life was about to change.

She had hauled a load of wet wash to the clothes line in the yard and was standing, hands on hips, waiting for me.

I sat down on the steps and said, “What do I have to do?”

“Come hand me these clothes and I’ll pin ’em on the line!”

“Do I have to do it now?” I said. “I was watching TV.”

She gave me a look. So I got up and handed her a wet shirt.

“These clothes need sun to get dry before it rains,” she said, glancing up at dark clouds rumbling over the mountains. “And sunshine kill germs. It’s the best disinfectant.”

I’d never heard of disinfectant but it wasn’t hard to figure.

“Doesn’t soap do that?”

“Soap helps,” she said, “but sunshine’s a better cleaner. And cleanliness is next to godliness.”

I couldn’t argue with that. So I said, “I’m just a kid. You could do it faster without me.”

She rolled her eyes. “Quit stallin’ and get to work,” she said. Then she added with a sigh, “Someday you’ll be blessed with children of your own.”

Her tone made me think: Did she mean blessed or cursed?

That story surfaced in my memory this morning. I hadn’t thought about it in years. My husband and I were sitting outside our house, soaking up sun on a spectacular spring day and brainstorming all sorts of improvements we could make. Put in some new plants. Replace the fence. Resurface the patio….

It was one of those wishful conversations where anything is game until reality creeps in and you start to see dollar signs.

“OK,” he said, “I’m gonna start a load of laundry. Would you like a second cup of coffee?”

He often reads my mind. I nodded and smiled. Moments later he handed me a fresh cup, just the way I like it.

“Mmm,” I said, “lovely.”

He went inside and I leaned back in my chair to sip coffee and savor the morning.

We live in Carmel Valley, Calif., 15 miles inland from Monterey Bay, on a hill where we see mostly rolling green mountains and a big blue sky; buzzards, hawks, hummingbirds and quail; rabbits and gophers; bobcats and deer; and maybe, on occasion, a mountain lion.

I never tire of the sights. But this morning, I closed my eyes and listened to the sounds.

Down by the river, wild turkeys gobbled. A donkey heehawed. Dogs barked like they meant business. A hummingbird buzzed past my ear. And a breeze from the coast swept the valley like a broom, rustling the limbs of oaks and pines and cottonwoods, and rattling the leaves on a plum tree above my head.

The air carried a faint, mixed fragrance of the plants we often use in cooking _ Meyer lemons, rosemary, sage and thyme.

And best of all, I could feel the sun, warming my face, easing my aches, clearing my mind. All that and a taste of coffee.

Some days it’s worth waking up and going outside just to let Nature cleanse your soul.

My mother was right. Sunlight is the best (natural) disinfectant. Cleanliness is next to godliness. (I still can’t argue with that.) And I have indeed been blessed with three children of my own, plus nine helpful grandkids.

But I’m also blessed with an automatic washer and dryer. And especially with someone who seems happy to use them.


  1. Victoria Alldrin says

    Just love reading your columns. When my mother was alive and lived in Carmel we would read them together! Mark is an by old high school friend and our parents were friends. Got to see Mark at the class reunion and sat next to him. Both Gary and I said how much we enjoyed reading your work! Thank you.

  2. Kate Sciacca says

    You sure do have great readers…. The comments here are a joy. Currently the BS (Beloved Spouse, of course) is stewing because a nephew hasn’t been “keeping in touch with ‘the family!’” Sicilians…. Gotta love ‘em…. Even when they’re not too lovable 😜😜. I think I’ll take an evening walk and disinfect the soul a bit,.. can’t hurt 😊

    Happy June!

  3. Curtis Ayres says

    You are truly blessed, but we too are blessed with your words and stories. Thank you!

  4. I have control of the magic hamper at our house. I am the one that will take the time to sort, properly treat, carefully launder and dry (some have to hang so they don’t shrink or lose their shape) and iron if necessary. I can even fold fitted sheets so they can be stacked neatly. But I am only too happy to share kitchen duties. I Hate to cook, but necessity requires it at least part of the time. We do go out to eat, but usually 3 times a week or less. In general I am responsible to prepare the meat or poultry. My husband is willing to prepare the veges and rice or potatoes, even to the point of making a salad for me. He does not want to mess with turnip greens, ever. He would prefer they had to stay in the other room because he doesn’t want to see them or smell them. But I love them! So I heat them from the can sometimes. Yum. And he is willing to manage the floors entirely. He vacuums, and sometimes scrubs with the hard floor machine so they are sparkling again. We do home improvement projects together. I paint, he does the hammering or sawing if needed. Outside he does the grass, I do the flowers.

  5. CHope Hall says

    Indeed you are blessed. My husband of 61+ years brings me the best cup of coffee any person could make. We do washing clothes together. He always puts the clean sheets on the bed & I fold & put up the rest. He hangs his clothes on the hanger & I hang mine. Together we get the chores done so we can continue to live here. We are blessed & we know it. It is well.

Speak Your Mind