How Embarrassing!

by Barbara Walvoord

(First published in the Lathrop Lamp Post Sept. 16, 206)

Shortly after the recent column where I set myself up as an expert on avoiding poison ivy rash, what should appear, to my dismay, but a poison ivy rash on the sides of my third and fourth fingers on both hands.  Why there?

I figured it out when I noticed that I hold my shoelaces between those fingers when I tie my work boots. I had followed my own good advice to spray my boots with cleanser and rinse them, but had missed the shoelaces, so the next day, when I retied my boots, I got urushiol on my fingers.  My ring finger is the worst affected. So here’s additional advice: spray your shoelaces, and be sure to scrub under your rings.

The good news: because of this and other past lapses in my Surefire Poison Ivy Protection Protocols, I am also an expert on treating poison ivy rash. I use Tecnu Medicated Poison Ivy Scrub, available at CVS, and then a 1% cortisone anti-itch cream. These methods leave me almost entirely itch-free.

To put mere poison ivy in perspective, an archeologist  who explores Louisiana’s Great Dismal Swamp describes dealing with sucking mudholes, rattlesnakes as big around as his thigh, gliding water moccasins, ripping thorns, and clouds of mosquitoes. His scientific discoveries have changed the world’s knowledge, but also, he says the swamp’s mystery and beauty have changed him: “I love what the swamp has done for me.”  (Smithsonian, Sept. 2016, p. 77).

“I take a lot of strength, peace, and comfort from nature,” said a resident at a recent Land Conservation Committee meeting.  Another resident once told me that, after the death of a spouse,  walking our land had “saved my life.” So we take precautions, but we keep walking and working on our land.  In return, our land blesses us with beauty, birdsongs, solitude, and peace.


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