Oh, what fun it was in summer as a child to frolic the livelong day. Splashing in the pool, racing out-of-doors from sunup to sundown, eating when and what you wanted, forgetting school, lessons, goals, the pull and tug of responsibility. A time when even your parents indulged you, spoiled you a bit, in the lazy sweet days of youth.

Those days are gone now--the carefree time when you didn't have to earn a living, commute to work, tend your family, nervously eye your bank balance--but there's still summer, the sunshine and being alive on this great, green earth.

Why not get a suntan? asks Leslie Milk in her column of July 14.

You can ignore the mounting evidence that exposure to the radiation of the sun can cause skin cancer. Why not? Just trivialize it and a whole universe of other carefree opportunities open up.

Forget recalls from Detroit, drive your car anyway. Who cares if some tuna's been recalled. Bon appetite and to hell with botulism!

Who cares about the chemicals poisoning our rivers--including the Potomac and the Chesapeake Bay--the additives laced through much of the canned good supplies and pesticides working their way up through the food chain to our dining room table? Hang them all!

Why just imagine, if you manage to ignore all the cautionary information, think how pleasant life could be. Maybe like childhood again. And you won't have to bother with polio shots--after all, these threats exist for others, not you--or visits to the dentist, or worry about too much fat, salt or calories in your diet. No, for you it will always be summer, those sweet innocent days of youth. If only you can forget those warnings. Trivialize them.

That sentiment, of course, has surely crossed the minds of most adults, and who would deny there are some compelling reasons to embrace it if you happen to be healthy and vigorous. In such a state, or state of mind, you see that it's other people who get sick and die, not you, so you don't really have to follow all these accursed rules, do you?

The answer for the mature mind, alas, is that yes, life is difficult. There are dangers to avoid, risks best left untempted and rules one might better follow than scorn. So it is that the really clever people you know have given up smoking, are watching their weight and the quality of the food they eat. The smart ones you know care about the possible health consequences of food additives, chemical contaminations and, yes, the harmful effects of the sun.

They know that the warnings about these things don't come from professional hand-wringers but from America's foremost scientists and engineers. That Detroit's best minds found the faulty breaks and defective steering. That agricultural researchers discovered the botulisms. That oncologists know today that cancer has increased some 800 percent since 1900 along with all the "miracle" foods, drugs and chemicals. And that there are serious scientists who believe mankind can prolong life and its quality by carefully avoiding the bad and embracing the good.

All of this can sound like a scold at first, but summers won't go away if you live a cautious life. Instead of fretting, you can take advantage of all the new information and make it work for you.

If you're like my family, you tend the garden and eat the tomatoes and broccoli and eggplants from your backyard. You go to the beach but you cover up getting out of the water. You read the recall section of The Post, avoid the avoidable, do the do-able, moan and groan to your congressman that you want a safe world for your children. You do all the things a grown-up has to do, and in the end the sun still shines for you and like the flowers of the mountain you bask in the great beauty of all this.

Only, like my grandpa used to say, it ain't necessarily easy.