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Poison Ivy Recon

By Bev Barr BCC Editor

One of the first plants young Texans learn to identify is poison ivy. My brothers suffered terribly from poison ivy – especially my older brother who spent years bathed in pink Calamine lotion. But I seemed to be completely impervious to the plant’s poison. As an adult, one weekend, I went camping in central California, while racing in a regatta. I assumed that my anti-poison-ivy constitution would protect me from poison oak, which grew wild in that area. I was wrong. My reaction to poison oak was so severe, I wound up in the hospital for several days. I thought I was going to die.
Perhaps, I over generalized from that painful mishap — or maybe not. When I moved back to Texas, in 2001, I would go on poison ivy recon missions to discover where visitors might encounter poison ivy, and eradicate it if at all possible. I did not want my visitors to get hurt while visiting Texas.
I would ride my bike down the path along Waxahachie Creek and think, “This looks like a great place to stop and walk down to the river,” or, “I know we’re going to stop here — at the witches’ tree and discuss the Chisholm Trail, witches and the hardness of Bois d’ arc.” So I would stop and scour the area with a bottle of Round Up in hand — and annihilate every bit of poison ivy I could find in these spots. I wanted to do what little I could to ensure that my visitors would avoid contracting poison ivy during a visit.
Imagine my surprise the first time I took visitors to Bandera, and we happened to discover a beautiful specimen of poison ivy growing on Main Street, winding itself around a post near where we parked our car. Well, we cracked up laughing at this — because it demonstrated something about “insider cowboy humor,” (if not a little hostility to outsiders). And, fortunately, we knew better than to brush up against it.
This next week, as most weeks, Bandera will receive visitors from out of the area — specifically, Doug and Sandra Van Zandt, the artists from Oklahoma who built a bronze monument to honor Texas soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and their families. (See story on Government page.) They will be visiting Bandera and “shopping for a place to live,” with the intention of moving back to Texas, specifically to the Hill Country — where I suspect Miracle-Gro outsells herbicides ten to one.
I have every confidence the Van Zandts will enjoy the lights on the courthouse lawn, and not fault the community for its confusion in where exactly to focus its artificially illuminated Christmas cheer.