Angel and I wandered off to explore this morning. My thoughts turned to Poison Oak.
You see, we had quite a few visitors over the weekend, who braved the single lane gravel road to make it up to our Homestead. One of the visitors came down with a bit of Poison Oak on his ankle the next morning.
Yesterday we had some other visitors. Since I knew that on Friday, some visitors wandered into the stuff (and had a breakout), I showed them some Poison Oak and said they should avoid it.
You would have thought I just introduced them to Hannibal Lecter!
One of the visitors tip-toed from the car to the house, asking all the way: "Did I step in any"?
Me? I kind of like this wiley plant. Whenever I get a fresh break out, I just scratch it to smithereens until the pain over comes the itch. Seems to work (but I don't advise anybody else to do this). Kylie, who at age ten gets into everything--God Bless Her---breaks out terribly from the stuff. We try all the remedies known to humankind on her.
But Kylie has learned to avoid Poison Oak. No break outs thus far this year (keep your fingers crossed).
But the fore-mentioned visitor's fear struck me. How can a little plant, that doesn't really move, snarl, bite, scratch or claw--strike such fear into a person? I told them that the best remedy I know is to avoid it (leaves of three, let it be) and to take a bath after running about in their territory (not that I take my own advice).
I sometimes wonder if that isn't the reason Thoreau took his daily wash up in Walden Pond? To ward off Poison Oak's cousin Poison Ivy that grows on the eastern part of our Country.
Back to Poison Oak. No need to be frightened. Just as there really isn't any need to be frightened of Mountain Lions (and I intentionally capitalize creatures names---a convention I wish all would adopt), Grizzly Bears, Black Bears, Rattlesnakes, Bison and a multitude of other creatures that I hope we learn to live with and restore their right to private property! Yes, Animals have property rights!
With adequate caution, we can live with all of creation.
Where does this fear come from? We fear what we don't know. I don't think we will really turn the tide and create more wild space until the percentage of kids who come down with a Poison Oak rash gets to ninety percent and they learn to love and respect the plant. But I fear the kidly breakout percentage gets less and less every year, as the computer and the Xbox, Wii, Ipod, Ipad, Iphone, and Ipoison get more and more of our youngster's attention.
And what is the lesson of Poison Oak to a child? A rather good one. You see, if a child wanders into traffic, they are dead before they learn the lesson that that is something you should not wander in. But if a kid wanders into some Poison Oak, well, then they learn the lesson that there are things out there that can hurt you---but without the modern day lethality of our more uncivilized, civilized dangers!