Unlike some people, I actually enjoy moving the lawn. I worked for a lawn care business for three years during high school, and every time I smell freshly cut grass it reminds me of the years of my youth.
The side effect of working for a lawn care business is that I want every blade of grass to be the same length, there should be a nice, even back-and-forth pattern in the lawn from the lawn mower wheels and I want everything trimmed.
My pickiness about grass backfired on me recently. A few weeks ago, after I finished with the lawn mower, I decided to clear out some scraggly looking vegetation on a forested area of our lot.
I fired up my trimmer and attacked the unknown weeds with gusto.
I now know what those weeds are: poison ivy.
The rash from the ivy doesn’t appear instantaneously; it usually takes a couple of days for it to surface.
At first, it was just one little spot on my left foot, but it soon spread all over that foot, my other foot, both legs, my right arm and the back of my left hand.
By slicing through the poison ivy with the trimmer, I effectively turned the plants into a napalm-like substance that stuck to my skin in various areas.
Of course, I was wearing shorts and a short-sleeved shirt when I trimmed the wooded area, which provided no protection against the oil from the plant.
Now, more than a week after my initial contact with the poison ivy, the painful, itchy rash is still going strong.
I’ve been trying just about anything to stymie the itching: I’ve iced the area, taken cold showers, bought some lotion meant to treat the rash that only provides minor relief, and I even had my wife make me some oatmeal.
I didn’t eat the oatmeal; I put it on the rash, which was a suggestion from one of those “home remedy” sites.
I also took a bath in it after grinding it up in a food processor — another home remedy.
Both oatmeal experiences only had mediocre results.
I read online that it can take anywhere from one to three weeks for the itching to go away in most poison ivy exposure cases and up to six weeks in the most severe cases.
I’m hoping by next week the itching and burning is substantially reduced.
I’ve now learned my lesson about unknown weeds: Leave them alone, or make sure you’re covered when you’re near them.
I took this to the extreme when I trimmed my lawn this past weekend. I wore shoes, pants, leather work gloves, a hat and a long-sleeved shirt while I trimmed.
It was 90 degrees outside, and I’m sure the neighbors probably looked at me and thought I was bonkers for wearing that amount of clothing, but I was not going to risk another exposure to poison ivy.
If I get poison ivy again from that area of our yard, the next time I’m out there trimming I’ll be wearing a snowsuit, boots and a gas mask.
When the neighbors ask me what I’m doing, I’ll invite them inside to chat for a while over a bowl of oatmeal, which is for eating, not for pasting on one’s skin or using in a bath.