Earth Day and Poison Ivy

Yes, we planted a tree, not just for Earth Day but for the beautification of our backyard. A flowering crab tree which we have been promised will have white flowers and produce edible apples.  Crab apple jelly here we come.

All the media coverage for Earth Day has reminded me of the times in public school when the teacher would take us out to the yard and hand out rakes. It was a small, one room school and grades one through eight were expected to work together and it was called Arbour Day. After the school yard had been raked we would set off to the nearby woods to explore the plants coming to life there. Much to my mothers chagrin my souvenir from the outing was always an outbreak of poison ivy.




Poison Ivy was a constant in my young life. Every type of topical ointment, lotion or messy liquid was applied to my skin with poor results. My grandparents thought they had the perfect solution for drying up my rash. They were babysitting me and decided to take me to the barn where a barrel of whey was stored. Now for those who do not know the properties of whey, think salt brine. My poor little, three year old body was stripped bare and submerged in the barrel. If you have every witnessed a cat dropped in a body of water that is how I reacted. Unfortunately the treatment was not successful and I was left with a certain amount of distrust for my grandparents. Today it would be considered abuse but in those days it was just a family story.

Years passed and I still had to be very cautious about being near poison ivy. Sadly, living on a farm it was sometimes necessary to chase the stupid, wandering cows and on one such occasion I fell into a ditch, and you guessed it, lined with poison ivy. Back at the house I pulled on my bathing suit and turned on the garden hose. My mother handed me a bar of brown laundry soap to scrub my body. No poison ivy rash erupted. In future outbreaks I would wet the skin with water and rub the laundry soap over the infected area. Who would have thought that after all the money spent on pharmaceuticals, and a frightening episode with whey that a bar of brown laundry soap would dry up the rash. I still have to avoid contact with poison ivy but have a cure.

Happy Earth Day. Let’s all take care of our planet and stay away from poison ivy.


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