June 15, Monday - St. Basil. Magna Carta sealed, 1215. C. Goodyear patented discovery of vulcanized rubber, 1844.

June 16, Tuesday - Liberty Bell rung for Second Continental Congress, 1775.June 17, Wednesday - Don't brew while beans blossom. Battle of Bunker Hill, 1775, fought on Breed's Hill, Charlestown, Mass.

June 18, Thursday - First American fly-casting tournament, Utica, N.Y., 1861.

June 19, Friday - U.S. government established the eight-hour workday, 1912. Lou Gehrig born, 1903.

June 20, Saturday - Great seal of the United States adopted, 1782.

June 21, Sunday - Summer solstice at 10:03 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: Can you enlighten me on the confusion between Breed's Hill and Bunker Hill?

- M.K., Stockbridge, Mass.

Answer: Bunker Hill is the higher of the two elevations, while Breed's Hill, lower and to the southeast, commands Boston Harbor. When the continental forces learned of British plans to seize the heights of Charlestown and Dorchester, colonial forces were ordered to go and occupy Bunker Hill, outside Charlestown. Accounts differ on who made the decision to slightly revise the plan. Some accounts credit William Prescott with choosing Breed's Hill for its harbor watch. Others name Gen. Israel Putnam for digging in at Breed's Hill. In any event, it's generally agreed that the American's command of the sea approach from Breed's Hill probably pushed the British into attacking. Once the British forces had been reinforced by troops led by William Howe, Henry Clinton and John Burgoyne, they were ordered to take the hill. Their first two attempts were dismal failures, and casualties were proportionately among the highest in the British army's history, almost 50 percent (over a thousand) of their involved men. Their third attempt, however, was successful - due in large part to the Americans' lack of powder by that time.

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: Last time I went sailing, I got a rash that I was told was "prickly heat." Is there really such a thing?

- J.I., Bristol, R.I.

Answer: You know it. Prickly heat, also known as heat rash, can be caused simply by sweating and lack of air circulation in the clothing, or alternately, can be a reaction to warm dampness, as you may have experienced while sailing. Humidity worsens prickly heat by increasing both the warmth and the moisture. If you were on salt water, chances are that any length of time spent sitting around in salt-soaked clothing may have contributed to the condition. The result is a skin rash that looks like tiny red pimples, with an accompanying burning, itching, stinging, or feeling of multiple skin pricks. Babies sometimes get heat rash on the backs of their necks or upper backs, especially from being overdressed or sometimes accompanying a fever. Usually heat rash is caused by blocked sweat glands; a cool bath and lightweight, loose clothing are the cure.

Luckily, prickly heat (or heat rash) is a temporary condition, easily treated by increasing the airflow to the body or rinsing it of sweat or salt. Talcum powder can also help, especially in areas where the skin folds and airflow is reduced. Drinking lots of water can also help, both by aiding your body in keeping its fluids and by reducing the skin congestion from sweat.

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: To what extent does weather affect our health? Are there clear connections?

- G.H., Stonington, Conn.

Answer: Clear? No! But connections, yes. Some people sneeze when they look at the sun, which is a kind of allergic reaction. Colds are more common in the winter months of January, February and March and least common during July and August. Is it because we shut ourselves up inside? Or because of cold fronts? Asthma is often associated with weather conditions, but again, is it the weather or the avoidance of environmental allergens as a result of that weather? Unclear. Rheumatism seems to worsen with damp weather - for some. One clear health connection is the adverse reactions of our bodies to smog or overexposure to sunlight. Lung diseases and skin cancers are quite well-understood these days. On the positive side, some exposure to the sun is good for us, helping our bodies to store vitamin D and helping to counteract depression or "winter blues." Some studies suggest that sunlight can help fight off the common cold, although this is inconclusive. Cabin fever may be partly due to a lack of sunlight. Then, of course, there are frostbite, hypothermia, heat stroke and a host of other emergencies that are connected with weather. If you know what's good for you, you'll remain weatherwise!

*****

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

This Week With The Old Farmer's Almanac

June 15-21, 1998

St. Basil, June 15

SUMMER SOLSTICE

Didn't the folk opera Porgy & Bess tell it best? "Summertime, and the living is easy; Fish are jumping, and the cotton is high. Your daddy's rich and your mama's good looking, So hush, little baby, don't you cry." Henry David Thoreau said it differently, but equally eloquently: "Live in each season as it passes; breathe air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each. Let them be your only diet, drink, and botanical medicines." June 21 is the date, 10:03 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, the moment. Look for Venus floating low near the Moon in the early morning.

I'll tell you how the Sun rose - A Ribbon at a time.

- Emily Dickinson

Tip of the Week

Cool a sunburn with cold peppermint tea or diluted peppermint oil

PEACHES & BERRIES

6 peaches

2 lemons, cut into wedges

2 pints blackberries

2 pints strawberries (or raspberries)

1/2 cup honey

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

Boil a large pot of water and blanch the peaches for about 30 seconds, or until skins loosen. Rinse with cool water, drain, and peel. Halve and pit peaches and place two halves on each of six plates. Sprinkle peaches with lemon juice, reserving some wedges for garnish. Wash and hull the berries and let them dry. Combine honey and cardamom, pour over berries, and stir gently. Fill each peach half with some of the berry mixture and serve with lemon wedges.

Makes 6 servings

The Old Farmer's Weather Proverbs

If St. Vitus' Day (June 15) be rainy weather, it will rain for thirty days together.

The first three days of any season rule the weather for that season.

A severe summer, a windy autumn.

Salt becomes damp before rain.