Sharon Randall: A dose of sunshine

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 2, 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.

Sharon Randall is an author and can be reached at P.O. Box 922, Carmel Valley CA 93924 or