Sunday, June 15, 2008

The serpent in the garden

Okay, the snake wasn't in my garden, so we'll get to that in a minute. My garden seems to be riddled with hidden poison ivy instead. So, in my zeal to rid it of weeds the other day, I managed to make contact with poison ivy and Virginia creeper, both of which seem to be exceedingly fond of me. I'm less enchanted.

After weeding, I scrubbed down with Clorox, the preventative of choice in this part of the world. Apparently I missed a spot . . . or two. The first breakout, a tiny one, started on my hand. Then another patch popped out on my neck. No idea how it got there. Then on my waist -- from pulling on slacks and brushing against that skin. And on and on and on. I was using a spray-on treatment that stops itching, but not much else. Then a friend passed along a prescription ointment. The itching calmed but the spreading continued.

Under normal circumstances, I'd have toughed it out, but with a photographer coming on Monday to shoot new author photos, I concluded I probably shouldn't be covered with blotches from head to toe, so broke down and saw a doctor for a prescription. I have finally stopped spreading and the outbreaks are fading. I even dared to go back into the garden this morning to yank a few more weeds, staying far, far away from where I think the poison ivy is laying in wait.

All of this got me to thinking about how the universe somehow tries to balance things. Something as lovely and rewarding as gardening can come with a nasty alternative. Just ask my friend author Carla Neggers, who thinks there's a nest of snakes in hers. She believes this because her son found a baby snake curled up inside the newspaper on their front steps the other day. She's pretty sure the rest of the family is in the garden . . . which means she isn't going there. Boy, can I relate. If a snake crawled out of mine, I'd probably have to move, though I do have memories of my grandmother taking a hoe to a snake in this very same front yard many years ago.

I suppose we all have to learn to take the bad with the good. Are there things you love doing that you've given up because the side effects or negatives aren't worth it? I'd love to hear about it. And if any of you know of a surefire way to kill poison ivy without killing everything around it, I'd like that information, too. Soon!!!


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