LaughLines: Spring Has Sprung – Pass the Calamine

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Every spring I vow it won’t happen — and every year, it does.

I feel the familiar twinge, then itch, then burning sensation. A few days later, there’s a lone blister that blossoms into a widening patch of oozing sores.

Poison ivy? Oops, I’ve got it again…

It’s not that I’m not careful. I wear sneakers with socks, baggy sweats, long-sleeved shirts, gardening gloves, a hat and sunglasses. I’m so well-covered, the dogs bark at me as I walk out of the house.

Where am I headed? To that patch of green death near the mailbox, where I have a small flower bed, but also where the poison ivy has found just the right amount of sun and shade. There it is, and after a long, cold winter, it’s out again, alive again, basking in the sun and waiting for some dope (me, again) to wander over.

I usually “contract” poison ivy in the spring, but my worst-ever bout was in August. Just two weeks before I left home for college, I spent a few days at my parents’ lake house and one afternoon, paddled the canoe across the lake to a nice green spot. I beached the canoe, scrambled up the slope and laid down to watch the clouds float by.

Bad move.

I was laying on poison ivy, so within a few hours, I started to itch. A line of blisters soon sprouted along the back of my legs and down my arms. By the second day, the blisters were the size of half-dollars and filled with pus. By week’s end, I was covered with crusty, oozing lesions. I looked like I had the plague – but without the conveniently quick death.

Think your first day as a college freshman was tough? Try going through it with a box of Kleenex under one arm, dabbing the sores on your arms. Try showing up to orientation wearing flip-flops (WAY before they became fashionable) because your ankles are covered in blisters and gym shorts (ditto) because your pant legs would’ve stuck to your leaky legs.

Despite the annual trauma, though, I continue with the yard work and itch for a few weeks. Sure, it’s annoying, and I whine and complain to the family. Yet, when I see the sun shining, and the yard turning green, I’m willing to risk it.

I figure poison ivy blisters are a small price to pay for the coming of spring — so pass the calamine and enjoy the spring air!

About Cate Drew

I’m on the high side of 40, with three dogs, two teens and one husband, living in a small New England town in a house that’s never quiet. Ever. It’s not that I have a really colorful life – I just tend to write colorfully about it. And there’s plenty of material: marriage to the Man of a Thousand Bad Ideas,.. my mom, who moved Dad’s coffin closer to the street six months after he died so she could visit his grave as a kind of drive-up window…our dog posse…our kids…lots of siblings and in-laws, former co-workers, old boyfriends -- they’re all here. Toss in 14 years of Catholic school and you’ve got a lot of guilt, too. Which reminds me: forget “high side of 40.” I’m 51, damnit.