One winter, when I was in the 5th grade, I came down with a mysterious rash on my face. It was blotchy, blistery, and itchy. My mom, a trained nurse, couldn't figure out what it was, nor by extension, how to help me. She theorized that maybe I had sat too close to the wood stove and burned my face (I do love a hot fire in the winter months). She wondered if I'd had an allergic reaction to the laundry detergent or perhaps the soap I used to wash my face. She applied cool compresses. She tried various itch creams. Nothing helped. Finally, she took me to the doctor who eventually determined I had poison ivy. In the dead of winter. How could that happen? No-one knew until a couple of weeks later when I brought home a school project.
We were studying the native people from our area- Wampanoags- and I had built a scale model of what we then called a wigwam, though I now know the proper term is wetu. And what, you ask, did I use to lash the poles together? You guessed it- poison ivy vines. Who knew you could get poison ivy from those? Who even knew what they looked like? That day, I vowed to learn what poison ivy looked like in every season so I wouldn't catch it again. Sadly, I have caught poison ivy since, even as an adult, (sometimes I swear I get it just by looking at it, I'm that allergic) but I do know exactly what it looks like, no matter the season.
Today, I offer these photos to help my New England readers avoid poison ivy. These were all taken in the last week, so this is what poison ivy looks like now. I'll be sure to post some photos during the fall and winter to help you avoid my itchy mistake!
Notice the differences in the color and size of the leaves. Poison Ivy can look very different even in the same area. All of these photos were taken within roughly 1/4 mile of my house.
One thing that is consistent is the presence of three leaves in a cluster. Usually those leaves are shiny. Sometimes those leaves are mostly green.
Other times the leaves are more red. (Especially when they are first coming out in the spring).
Sometimes it grows low to the ground like in the photos above. Other times it climbs up posts, signs, and trees as in these photos:
This one is about 3 feet tall.
This one climbs about 20 feet into the tree.
These last two photos are NOT poison ivy. This vine is sometimes confused with Poison ivy because it climbs the same way and has similar shaped leaves.
But look closely... there are 5 leaves in each cluster and the leaves are more jagged.
One final tip: poison ivy thrives along the edges. That is, in the area where one ecosystem transitions to another. For example, some of these photos were taken along the edge of a field where it transitions into forest (in partial to full sun), others along the edge of a brook (in partial sun), still others along the edge of a road (in full shade). Also watch for it along the edges of parks, paths, or trails.
This weekend, my husband and I went to see Beautiful (the Carol King story) at The Boston Opera House.
It was a cold night, and we planned to walk to dinner and then back to the theater, so I opted to wear this gorgeous cape made by my mom. I don’t wear it often, but it seemed like the perfect opportunity.
Mom made this cape for me at my request many years ago. The inspiration: the cape Tim Curry wore when he played Cardinal Richelieu in The Three Musketeers. Sure, he was a bad guy, but his cape was fabulous. I mean, no-one could make an exit like the Cardinal when he whipped that cape around.
We had a wonderful night—delicious dinner, gorgeous theater, and inspiring show. My mom used to play Carol King when I was growing up, but I didn’t know her story.
I was in nearby New Bedford, MA with my kids yesterday for their music lessons. Normally, I go upstairs with them in this wonderful old factory that has been converted to studio spaces, but yesterday was sunny and nearly 60 F (15.5 C) so I opted to stay outside in the sun. Eventually I decided to lie down and this is what I saw. It immediately made me think of Dublin.
I realized that I don’t look at the sky here as much as I did in Dublin. I always watched the rushing clouds and the changing color of the sky. If you’ve been following me long enough, you probably remember the many sky photos I posted.
Why don’t I do that here? I think it’s because the sky is a piece of nature I could always see, no matter where I was in Dublin. I could be surrounded by buildings and look up. Here in Southeast Massachusetts, I’m surrounded by nature. Somehow that has translated to me not looking up as much. I should change that.
When is told my family about this over dinner they all knew what I was talking about before I had even explained it. My daughter commented that we were always looking at the sky between the buildings at Clancy Quay (where we lived). It’s funny how this all became clear to me because I looked up yesterday.
Also, I miss Dublin.
#nature #rurallife #citylife
The weather was spectacular today. After school, my daughter and I took a hike in the woods and had fun taking photos with the setting sun. That’s me in the first photo. I balance-beamed out to the end of that fallen tree. (The ice was not safe). #nofilter #playoutside #nature
From Thursday to Sunday, I was at a writing retreat in Vermont. I find being among other book creators so inspiring that I often lose track of time and forget to go outside. Either I’m engaged in meaningful conversations about books or off on my own writing.
Today, between appointments and other commitments, I claimed a much-needed hour outside to hike, write, and reflect on my weekend.
#amwriting #nofilter #latergram
Just finished Finding Langston by @lclineransome Started bf bed last night. Had to finish this morning. Don’t be fooled by it’s slimness. It packs a whole lot of love and pain and beauty into 104 pages. Passing it to my daughter to read. #KidLit
Bog views from my walk today. #RochesterLife #nature
Went to see @katwrightkatwright @narrowscenter last night. Great show and excellent venue. Added bonus: I got to see @painternik9 show again. It’s a bit surreal to attend a concert and see illustrations from our book hanging in the gallery just outside the concert room. #FlyingDeep #livemusic
It was 20 degrees below zero F with the wind chill in New Hampshire yesterday. That didn’t stop my friend and I from taking a walk or our kids from going sledding and cross country skiing. One friend even snowshoed most of the way up Tenney Mountain. We were all fine once we bundled up. The sleds didn’t fare as well, though.
I’d like to say it’s much warmer back here in southeastern Massachusetts, but it isn’t. Brrrr. (That’s me in the purple coat, by the way).
Want to learn an instrument in the New Year? My son @dantecusolito is accepting students for guitar, ukulele, and bass. He teaches ages 5 through adult. All lessons happen at 88 Hatch St. (Hatch Street Studios) in New Bedford, MA. Please share this with anyone you know who might be interested.
Email email@example.com for more information. @southcoastlessons
It’s not all airplanes all the time over here. Sometimes @dantecusolito takes a break from building planes to build a ski bike.
Now if we would only get some snow...