Some branches blew down in Sunday’s thunderstorms, so I went out back to pick up the big ones and dump them on the I-swear-we’ll-start-a-compost-pile-here-soon pile.*

I had an armful and reached down idily to grab a hunk. My fingers closed around the bark. And then I looked down.

Red roots. Hundreds of red roots, on bare bark. I had just grabbed a handful of dead poison ivy.

I looked at my hand for a minute, as if it belonged to somebody else. I rather wished it had.


Holding my tainted arm out, hand dangling limply at the end of my wrist, like a man holding his wife’s purse while she shops, I dumped my load of dead pine boughs, went inside, and slathered up with Tecnu for five minutes, while uttering fervent prayers to the terrible and awesome Lords of Calamine.

May they have mercy on my flesh.

*We actually will be composting soon–James is researching the matter, which means that several weeks will pass while he searches the internet for the absolute perfect, optimal method of composting for our area and needs, he’ll manage to locate the only geek-composting site in existence and read the forums at great length, (“Mod your compost bin! Run your mainframe off compost!”) and then suddenly in a flurry of activity, we will have compost bins being built, composting being done, and he’ll be running around with a thermometer, a pitchfork, and a pocket full of worms for months until it is in perfect working order.

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