The Devilish Vine

There are two types of people in this world: Those who don’t get poison ivy, and those who get it whenever they even think about the devilish vine.

By Philip Hunt
Explore Ambassador

Late summer is a time for preparation. Kids are preparing to go back to school; animals are preparing for fall and winter; and hunters and anglers are preparing for the productive season ahead.

Plants are also getting ready by turning solar energy into enough sustenance to last through winter. In my opinion, one plant that should stop preparing is poison ivy. If it doesn’t make it through the winter, that’s fine with me.

There are two types of people in this world: Those who don’t get poison ivy, and those who get it whenever they even think about the devilish vine. You can probably guess which camp I’m in.

I am sure that there is a reason this plant exists other than tormenting me. I know some birds will eat the seeds and some animals can eat the leaves. But as a good Presbyterian, the existence of poison ivy leads me to question an omnipotent, sovereign Creator. I am joking, but it will be a question I plan on asking Him one day.

I should know how to avoid the three-leafed plant. I can count to three, and I know my colors. But at some point during the late summer, I always find myself trying to wrap something around a tree. When I am completely hugging the tree, I notice the vines against my arms and face are poison ivy.

The panic and anxiety set in while my mind is engulfed with the coming rash and agony. Trying to wash it off with cold water and other remedies are fruitless. They merely give a false hope that will only be dashed in a couple of days’ time.

I used to get the rash immediately after contact. Growing up, I would catch for my brother in the yard while he practiced his curveball. I had a pretty quick learning curve, as a passed ball would mean a trip into poison ivy.

At first, it was a small patch on my arm or leg; then my body decided to start dropping immune-system atomic bombs on the offending oil. Going to bed feeling fine but waking up looking like Quasimodo is my current reaction to poison ivy.

My doctor knows that when I call in August, a steroid dose pack will soon have my name on it at the local pharmacy.

Let me finish by giving a few tips for dealing with poison ivy.

1: Learn to identify. “Leaves of three, let it be.” Avoidance is the best way to avoid my sad fate.

2: Be aware of what it touches. The stems, seeds and leaves all have the oil that causes a rash. If you use a lopping shear or machete, use gloves and wash and dry the tool after use.

3: If the rash covers a large portion of your body or gets close to your eyes or mouth, contact your physician.

4: And if you see me moping around town with what seems like a heavy weight on my shoulders, just know I probably got into poison ivy and am waiting for the inevitable.

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