| 03.24.2018

Play smart, play safe


Despite the best efforts of some scattered snowstorms, it seems spring has finally sprung.

Sunny skies and green grass mean it’s time to get out there and do stuff. Before you do though, heed these cautionary tips from a local.


As soon as the sun pops out, Moscow starts to feel like southern California and everyone wants to go swimming. Unfortunately, the Palouse area is not quite so temperate and welcoming to early season swimmers. While we don’t have to deal with the dangers of sharks, it is important for the intrepid northwestern swimmer to be wary of ice, hypothermia, pointy sticks and the occasional muskrat. Paradise Creek and Spring Valley Reservoir are tempting options for those who are water deprived, but bring towels, hot chocolate and preferably a sauna if you go for a spring dip.


I’m not sure what it is about northern Idaho, but as soon as we hit four consecutive hours of sunshine, everybody starts taking their clothes off. This is a bad idea for several reasons. The most obvious is aesthetic. How is Moscow supposed to uphold its status as “Heart of the Arts” when our lawns are covered in mostly nude, sun deprived Idahoans lounging like so many freshly peeled potatoes?

Along with it obviously being offensive to our eyes, premature tanning also holds risks to the perpetrator. Our winter skin is not yet ready for prolonged exposure to the sun, so these first few weeks of spring usually serve up a solid burn and peel instead of laying down a bronzed base.

This means in a few weeks when it snows again (and it will), today’s tanners will be dealing with sunburnt shoulders while shoveling their driveways. Again, I speak from experience when I say this is not a good time to tan.


Let’s be honest, winter is not kind to most of our bodies. Holidays, lack of exercise and baggy winter clothes all give us excuses to let things go a little. This means when spring does come around and we finally get to take off the hoodies we’ve been wearing for the past eight months, many often find they are carrying a little more baggage than they would like.

This realization, combined with the suddenly sunny weather, triggers some primal instinct in people to go on a run. The streets come alive with runners who after a few blocks quickly devolve into joggers, walkers and in extreme situations, pukers.

Running is all well and good, but be careful. Your body is not ready for too much too fast, and it’s never fun to realize you can’t run anymore when you are still a few miles from home.

I also have to battle a personal temptation to combine all of the aforementioned activities on one outing. I generally start with a light run. As soon as I start sweating, my shirt comes off and I start to multitask while tanning. In extreme situations, I will even make use of a pond or creek and get some early season swimming done too, but more often I will just trip near a puddle and get wet that way.

Cy Whitling can be reached at arg-arts@uidaho.edu

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