I was recently married and decided to take a summer job at my father-in-law’s apple orchard. My task was to strip the apple trees of Virginia Creeper because the vines, although harmless to the touch, are deadly to the apple tree. (They wrap around it and bloom, which robs the tree of light.) “Cool,” I said, thinking that it would be fun ripping out all of those vines and helping the trees. My father-in-law even warned me to keep my gloves on since he suspected that there was poison ivy near-by.
Trying to be Mr. Macho Man and knowing that I was relatively immune to the weed, I proceeded to rip out vines for exactly five days. On the seventh day, I was in the ER with my eyes swollen shut and deep seeping wounds all over my body. The doctor said it was the worst case he had ever seen, and the nurses thought I had been burned in a fire.
(Editor’s note: older apple orchards are notorious for poison ivy since they have lots of sunlight and don’t get sprayed with herbicide.)