I recalled my maternal granny when the first thought of shrinking my vegetable garden came to mind a while ago. I better understood why she mourned the successive years she could no longer plant, hoe, harvest, and preserve her own food.

However, this history could not prepare me for the day my husband and I stood in her kitchen where she said, “I’m sorry, Ars and Mel, but I don’t have strength to cook for y’all.”

In due season, my sisters and I found our mother in the same situation. We arranged Mom’s care on a rotational schedule in our homes until her death in July 2007.

Now, it’s not that I cannot dig, plant, weed, and harvest. However, I recognize the same forces of nature slowing me down. And I’m cooking for one instead of two. Furthermore, as Granny and my mother, I cannot countenance a vacant, weedy garden.

Only forty garlic cloves sprout and thrive in their weed-free bed.

Therefore, I called upon two men friends who own a truck, tools, and machines capable of shrinking and rebuilding gardens.

They arrived last Saturday, May 4, and we commenced the project of pulling up poles and weedy fencing around my 30 ft. by 260 ft. vegetable garden. A weather-perfect day, we made steady progress, broke for salad, hamburger soup, and lavender brownie with lavender lemon honey ice cream, and returned to the task at hand.

That’s when one of the guys called me over to the fence where he worked. “This looks like poison ivy. I’m really allergic to it.”

Oh boy, I’d tangled enough with the wicked weed that I should’ve known how to identify it. “Yes, the leaf is like poison ivy, yet, this is a shrub. Just to be safe, I’ll dig it up.”

My cavalier attitude proved me wrong. Sunday morning, my right wrist, often exposed due to only short-sleeved garden gloves sold in garden centers, itched with fiery, red blisters, and a deformed arm, red and swollen.

Oh yes, poison ivy grows in a small, woody shrub AND a vine.

I called the guys with the news, hoping they’d escaped the plant’s toxic touch.

“We’re good,” they said.

After applying rubbing alcohol and antiseptic ointment, and a fitful night’s sleep, I called my dermatologist for an appointment Monday morning. He prescribed predniSONE in decreasing dosages for twelve days.
At last, I can type on the keyboard of my new little computer without having to wrap gauze around blisters. Meanwhile, I anticipate round-two of reducing my vegetable garden.

I hope and pray this summer’s harvest isn’t a repeat of last year’s. I missed my Kentucky Wonder pole beans that sprouted only to wither and submit to weeds. The cucumbers produced enough for me to make Bread & Butter Pickles, Granny’s recipe that Mom passed on to me. Delicious with egg salad sandwiches.

Dear Reader, I’ll better mind Earth’s forces while I occupy this temporal home, until the day I enter my eternal rest with Granny, Mom, Becky, and Mel.

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