leaves of three (friday foto finder: leaf)

Here is a photo of a rather pretty native plant that is very common in my heavily wooded neighborhood. These shiny leaves show up late spring, often starting out red, and then developing into a lush bright green.

This plant is entirely evil.

In case you don’t recognize it, it is poison ivy: Leaves of three, let it be.

You know what’s even more evil than these leaves of three? The plant when it has no leaves. The vines stretch out over the ground, climb trees and rocks, and grow into bushes. And in the winter and very early spring, the woody stems and vines look pretty much like all the other leafless stems and vines that grow in the woods. But the leafless vines apparently have plenty of urushiol.

This is a photo I took last May on a walk in my neighborhood. This year, the poison ivy leaves are barely starting to bud. Three weeks ago, there probably weren’t any leaves on the stems that Phoebe must have touched while playing outside. She may well have washed her hands well with soap and water before she touched her face and rubbed her eyes, but urushiol doesn’t come off the skin with just soap and water.¹ Even if you use plenty of soap and scrub really hard. It was almost 3 years ago to the day that I learned this fact the hard way. And I really, really wish that we didn’t have to be reminded of this the hard way at this point in our lives.

This week’s friday foto finder is leaf. In general, I love leaves, and have posted plenty of photos of pretty fall leaves. (After all, I do live in New England.) Perhaps my choice of this less friendly leafy subject is somewhat a reflection of my toxic mood. Let’s face it, this has been a really bad month.² One good thing about the month is that it is almost over. With May coming up, I hope to be able to start fresh and turn over a new leaf.

¹ You can use products specifically formulated to work on the oils, such as Tecnu, or liquid dish detergent.
² And by “really bad,” I have a large number of expletives in mind. You can fill in your favorites.