Let it be

Is it possible to will away poison ivy, do you think? Ignore it away, maybe? I’ve been trying to not see the funny little blisters that are replacing the sunburn on my arms and shoulders from a morning at the beach last weekend. First I thought they were blisters from too much sun on my winter-white skin. Then they started to itch a bit and I decided them bug bites. But I know better, I think.

I forget that I can’t be so cavalier in my approach to poison ivy anymore. Getting it once should have been a good lesson, but the sun and a warmish breeze off the bay at Sandy Hook conspired to make me absentminded. I was more concerned with scratching up my bare legs among the beach plums, apparently, than minding what the rest of me touched. Foolish with spring-fever, I’ll pay the price by itching until Memorial Day.

I got poison ivy for the first time only about five years ago. It was the end of the school year and I was teaching high school at the time. My classroom that year was a *modular* one (makeshift would be a better word) – school construction had a number of classrooms relocated to the gym. There were walls to separate each classroom from the next, but no doors and no proper ceilings. You can imagine the fun a group of freshman boys might have with that set-up. I always knew if there was a substitute teacher in one of the adjoining classrooms because all manner of things would come flying over the walls, hitting my angelic students on the head while they toiled over their Spanish textbooks. Great fun. At any rate, there was no air conditioning in the gym, of course, and poor poison-ivy covered me couldn’t hide my calamine-lotioned skin under long sleeves or pants for fear of fainting in the heat at the end of June. School ended and I went off to celebrate in the Adirondacks and was eaten alive by black flies on top of my poison ivy. Talk about misery!

Poison ivy is impossible to avoid at Sandy Hook – it grows in great impenetrable thickets – and this time of year it’s not looking nearly so pretty or obvious as in this pic from May of last year. There was nothing but branches with just a hint of leaves… how dangerous is that?


Don’t tell me. I’m pretending not to notice, remember?

12 thoughts on “Let it be”

  1. Leaves of three: let it be.

    Don’t forget the second verse:

    Vines with hair: Beware!

    I hope I don’t jinx myself by saying I think I might be part of the 15% of the population that doesn’t react to urushiol.

  2. I have just a touch of poison ivy myself at the moment. For most of my life I could roll around in it and never get it. We do change with time don’t we? I had it in a big way for two years. More recently it’s only a slight case.
    Ever have it on your eyelids?

  3. Jennifer: I know it as hairy rope, don’t be a dope… berries white, take flight.

    Bobbie: I was the same way myself until that first time.

    Never had it on my eyelids, but how about in between the toes or hehind a knee?


  4. We don’t have poison ivy out here — we have poison oak. And, about 1/2 my students have been romping through it as best I can tell! 🙂 Poor kids.

    I’ve never had it myself. With all my allergies, I figure I’ll swell up like a balloon. A great, itchy balloon. I’m REALLY careful about it.

    Poor you! Hope you feel better!

  5. Sorry to hear of your malady. Used to get it as a kid – everywhere. And I do mean everywhere. Ever had it on your… Oh, wait – I guess not. 😉

    Trying not to scratch the interminable itching is a major effort – doing so just makes it worse.

    Say, I’m not helping again, am I?

    The backyard wildlife refuge here is full of it, and it creeps into the flowerbeds and around the bird feeders. It is a persistant, aggressive little weed that I have yet to eradicate. But I’ve been fortunate not have made direct contact with it in many years. (Famous last words…)

  6. Oh Laura–thanks for the warning; I’ll never go to Sandy Hook! I can just look at poison ivy and I’ll get the rash. It’s tough. I usually end up at the doctor’s office for treatment.

  7. Liza: I think I’ve read that poison oak is worse. Be careful!

    Dr. Know: Lots of birds eat the berries, so I guess it has a place in your little wildlife haven. Be mindful of it, tho.

    Delia: Ack no… you’ve got to get here someday!

    Dave: I knew that, but was hoping otherwise!

  8. Laura–do I ever have a poison ivy story to tell (don’t think I have told it yet) but I’ll save it for my blog. It involves a 9 year old boy and his tendency to scratch. Hmmm–more later.

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