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Poison Ivy

I do not have a green thumb.  In fact, I consider it a success if a plant survives for a month under my care.  However, there is one plant that I cannot kill no matter how hard I try.  Since moving to our current home, I have discovered a plant that will grow under the most extreme conditions.  It will grow with the most hideous neglect. It will grow where nothing else will grow.  If I remove it from one flower bed, it will happily occupy a different one.  It comes back year after year with no action on my part at all.  In fact, it seems to grow just to taunt me.  The plant seems to be as happy in shade as it is in full sun.  In early spring, the cute tiny leaves are a beautiful red which changes to green in summer.  It can adapt to its environment by becoming a climber or a freestanding shrub.  Although I try to be as earth friendly as I can, I have resorted to chemical warfare to render my yard safe from this pestilent plant. 
My first encounter with the plant came about 6 years ago while we were living in a rental home. This was just after the Hubster's military retirement and we had just moved to the area.  The Hubster and I spent an afternoon out in the yard after he had been for a run.  The run is important because he stayed in his running shorts to do the yard work.  While I mowed, he used the Weed Eater to clear the grass and growth under a cedar tree with low hanging branches.  He also pulled down a vine that was growing in the tree.  In no time at all, the yard looked beautiful and we went on with our day.
Like many couples, we are spooners.  I am the front spoon and my husband is the back spoon--we just fit together better that way.  His chest is to my back and his thighs touch the back of my thighs.  This is important.  What we didn't know was that the vine that he pulled out of the tree and weed whacked into submission earlier in the day was poison ivy.  Each pass of the Weed Eater had sprayed the urushiol oil from the plant onto his legs--particularly his thighs.  As we slept, that oil was transferred from the front of his thighs to the back of mine.  It was also being transferred to the sheets.  We awoke the next morning to masses of  red welts (if you are squeamish, don't follow the link) that soon progressed to oozing red nastiness.  Even worse, we woke up with even more welts in other areas after sleeping in the tainted sheets again that night.  After two days of misery, we went to the doctor who misdiagnosed the problem and prescribed a cream that did nothing to help with our misery.  And believe me, we were miserable with a capital M.  In desperation, I spent hours on the internet.  After comparing the information and photos with another vine growing up the house, we had discovered the problem. We then went to the drug store where we found the wonder product known as Blistex Poison Ivy Treatment.  Although it took days for the welts and rash to finally disappear, the Blistex product provided instant relief and kept both of us from scratching down to the bone.  
Now you might think that with a Biology teacher dad and summer's spent on a farm with lots of woods that I would have known what poison ivy looked like.  You would be wrong.  I am not sure how I made it through childhood without a bout of poison ivy.  I had heard of poison ivy, but certainly never gave it a thought as we traipsed through the woods to pick blueberries, play with the cows, or go camping.  It just must not have been an issue in the area where I grew up.
That was a painful lesson, but you can bet that we don't wear shorts for yard work anymore. When we moved to our current home, I thought our troubles were over.  Little did I know that poison ivy was lurking in the yard just waiting for me.  Now, I never work in our yard unless I know that the Blistex product is in the house.  When I come in from the yard, the first thing I do is use the cleansing foam on all appendages.  Although I have had more bouts with poison ivy, none have been as severe as the first and never after using the Blistex cleansing foam.  No plant with leaves in groups of three is safe in my yard, and I am sure that some innocent plants are sacrificed in the hunt for poison ivy.  I am taking no chances though.
Now that I know what poison ivy looks like, I can see it everywhere here.  This part of the country must just be perfect for the growth of poison ivy.  Both sides of the roads leading into our neighborhood are covered with the plant.  What looks like beautiful healthy plants growing along the road is really poison ivy waiting for the next unwary pedestrian.

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