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It’s Officially Summer

The calendar date has nothing to do with declaring summer at our house. Rather, it’s “When does Jeni get poison ivy?”. Well go ahead and break out the beach towels, umbrella drinks, and whatever else seems summery. I’ve got a terrific case of poison ivy… again.

Every year I get at least a tiny spot of it and most years it’s pretty bad. My body likes to freak completely out when poison whatever is around, so I carry a punch card for the local ER. Pretty soon I’ll be able to get a free coffee or 10% off my next visit (I’ll take the coupon since I don’t drink coffee).

Am I careful not to touch it? Umm, yeah. I know what it looks like, I avoid it like the plague – I even warn other people when it’s growing on metro park paths. I hate that little Urushiol producing plant more than any other plant in the universe, even bindweed, and that’s saying something!

So urushiol is an oil made up of toxic compounds produced by plants in the Anacardiacaea family, genus Toxicodendron (sounds pleasant, eh?). Most people (80%) react to the oil and know to stay away from poison ivy, oak, and poison sumac. Here’s an interesting fact, though: the oil can last for up to 5 years on any unwashed surface. Oh, the horror!! Garden tools, gloves, building foundations, rocks, my dog Noobie, the tree it grew on, the old pieces of vine still attached – OH THE HUMANITY!

We must get rid of this menace somehow, but please don’t burn it. We had a neighbor who (not so) cleverly burned it one summer evening while I was out taking a walk. Nothing prepared me for the next morning. Apparently breathing it in can cause a whole host of reactions since your whole body has to deal with urushiol instead of just a spot on your skin. I had a hard time breathing, my entire face was swollen and unrecognizable and I could barely see through crusty lids. Appealing, I know. A lovely shot of steroids followed with a round of oral steroids was my diet for the next few days. Yum.

So yes, I understand that June 20th is when most people recognize the official start of summer, but why be like the rest of the crowd? Say a happy hello to Summer 2021 with me today!