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Poison Ivy
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In our area of the country we had a cold spring. (It snowed on Easter!) It sure made getting a start on spring weeding easy. It got warm enough to work outside but not warm enough to speed the weed growth to out-of-control size. I had all of my planting areas weed-free in just a few short hours, and I didn’t even break a sweat. I did notice and pull out a few tiny poison ivy vine shoots and was exuberant that I had gotten them all!

But then the rains came, and the weather turned hot. All of a sudden there were poison ivy vines everywhere, even above my head! They were starting to strangle the life out of my emerging perennials. Where had those come from? I thought I had gotten them all.

This was a discouraging situation. Many people have an allergic reaction to the oil (urushiol) in poison ivy and I am one of them. The oil is so strong that by touching the vines or even by touching pet fur, gardening tools or clothing that has rubbed against the plant you can develop a rash which can later turn into hives or widespread areas of blisters oozing large amounts of fluid. Sometimes one’s eyes swell shut.

Even though I respect the weed, taking appropriate precautions by wearing protective clothing and washing with soap and water immediately after I think I may have been exposed, but mainly by being vigilant about identification and avoidance, I still have had many miserable seasons of ugly, itchy rashes which have left scars.

After studying the problem I realized the plants were coming through the chain link fence from our neighbor’s yard.  Jay’s wife, who had done all the gardening, had died recently and he wasn’t doing any yard work in her place. It didn’t seem right to talk to him about weeds when he was dealing with much bigger issues. I would have to tackle it the best I could.

So I prepared. I picked a cool day, and started early in the morning before it heated up, for I would be wearing a LOT of clothes. I wore a heavy, long sleeved shirt, knee socks, the longest pants I could find, sturdy shoes, and of course, gloves. I put “Ivy Block” (a barrier cream to guard against poison ivy, oak and sumac) on my neck, wrists and ankles. I was done in less than two hours and put the vines in the garbage can.

Mission Accomplished

A rash takes eight to forty-eight hours to develop so I had no way of knowing for a while whether I was going to be a red, itchy, bumpy mess. But a few days later I figured: Mission accomplished!

I had time to think about poison ivy while I was busy yanking it out. I thought about how much poison ivy is like sin.  It’s a lot easier to get it out of my life when it’s small. The more I ignore it thinking it will go away, the bigger it gets. It can choke out the good habits and qualities in my life. Sometimes it creeps into my life by association with others. When it’s time to deal with it, I better protect myself-with the encouragement of others, God’s guidance, Bible study and prayer.

“I took my troubles to the Lord: I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer” (Psalm 120:1).

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By Denise Schaller Curnutt. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW LIVING TRANSLATION © 1996.

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