Three is one of my favourite numbers. Three was the number of my happy childhood. I like three. I have another number that’s my more favourite, but those musings are for another day.
I grew up in a wooded environment. I know the mantra. “Leaves of three, let them be.”
Even forewarned with this knowledge, I failed to make the simple connection in my own back yard.
I didn’t pay ANY attention to the weeds I’ve been pulling. They were green. They were growing where I didn’t want green things to grow. So I pulled. Then when a rash showed up 2-3 days later … I didn’t make the connection! When I was a kid urushiol never bothered me. I know that our reactions to allergens can change over the course of a life, so I’m not sure for the past four years I kept believing it was a bug bite of some sort… We can thank a chance conversation with a new neighbor that brought me to my senses and caused me to actually see and not just look.
So, despite long sleeves, long socks, gloves, and immediate rinsing in cool water (knowing I was allergic to something.) I’m quite miserable this week. Even with those precautions, I hit both forearms and my right leg … on top of what I’d given myself earlier in the season.
Want to learn more? There are many many links online. Here are a few, most with good pictures to help you identify the plant. If you have questions on treatment I suggest calling your doctor and not just blindly following whatever you read here on the internets. If you have issues breathing or the rash covers most of your body, get to a hospital!
- many many photos of poison ivy — there are lots of variations on how the leaves actually look and how the plant grows.
- about.com photos of poison ivy
- Poison Ivy Tutorial – this has some decent photos of how the leaves look at different points in the season.
- Wikipedia: Toxicodendron radicans
- Cornell University
- Westchester County
Three is still one of my favourite numbers, however from now on I’ll pay a bit more attention to the weeds!