Last Wednesday marked the beginning of what I now refer to as Lobster Season: the special time of year when the first bearable rays of the sun are caught and seared into your skin because nobody up here seems to remember that even when it’s April, you need sunscreen. I’m included in this group of sunburned students, as I also did not keep track of how long I was outside either, too focused on the fact that the world around me had finally thawed.
The night before felt like getting ready for a Friday field trip in elementary school: outfits were picked out (Are you wearing shorts? Should I wear pants? Are jean shorts too much for the first nice day or are they good?) and speakers were thrown into backpacks alongside towels and hats; there was an undeniable sense that the next day was going to be great. And when I woke up on Wednesday, my excitement was warranted because it was gorgeous. All anyone wanted to do was be outside! Classes couldn’t end fast enough, and lunch was held as a picnic on the lawn, which looked like it was straight out of a movie scene or college pamphlet. It felt perfect until we began going back to dorms or classrooms or dining halls as the sun went down and saw just how much sun we had soaked in. Safe to say, lobsters might have looked pale next to some people.
A hazard of Lobster Season: nobody, and I mean nobody, had aloe. Seriously, you would think one person knew someone with some aloe, but nope. We had to just sit in our burns and marvel at how bright red our skin got. Now I’m sure we could have easily just run to Walmart or CVS to get some, but maybe the sun fried our brains because out of the ten people I talked to about aloe, nobody thought to ask someone with a car to give us a ride to get some! The burns, while quite funny and getting more painful as time goes on, made me think about what people would do the next day. Back home, if you got burned it just meant that you needed to spend more time in the water you were hopefully near, or it meant that you needed to put more tanning oil over the slightly more powerful sunscreen you saved for the second day in the sun. I figured that up here, people might try to stay covered or be indoors most of the day to prevent the burn from becoming sun poisoning or just getting more red.
To my surprise, Thursday was the day that I saw the most people outside, and instead of covering their burns to prevent further lobsterfication, people wore less to try and even out the burns against their skin. I felt like I had been severely underestimating the amount of sun that Northerners get, probably because I’ve only seen them when it is the awfully cold and dark winter. I was pleasantly surprised and felt like I was back home; all I needed were cicadas buzzing and the smell of a neighbor grilling something a few houses down to make it seem like I was there.
By Friday, everyone had gotten sufficiently burned and not a single person I talked to regretted it. Maybe the inaugural burn of the second semester is a tradition of sorts, a pinky promise from the sun that it was done hiding away behind snow and cold. Maybe as residents of Maine, we have to look like lobsters at least one day out of the year in respect. Or maybe, most likely, everyone was just excited to be outside with each other, the sun shining down and the snow finally melted away. Whatever the case may be, I still think someone should have some aloe ready for the second April hits next year.
~ Kathryn Stone `26