While wondering what good poison ivy does, I ran across this website: mailto:http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com/Plants.Folder/Poison%2520Ivy.html which did say that if you’re crazy and eat it, it could kill you, but didn’t say the only thing I thought maybe poison ivy was good for—making oxygen for us to breathe—and that confused me. Doesn’t every green plant make oxygen? Now Wildman Steve has a phone number I could call, but from the looks of his resume I doubt I would get to talk to the Wild one himself. He has done everything in every possible field of endeavor from science to art to chess tournaments. He doesn’t look that old in the photos on his website. I guess his youthful appearance comes from all the outdoor activities, what with searching for free edible wild food in the woods and Central Park to taking kids on birthday hikes and stuff. Walking and eating healthy they say are the way to keep fit. It appears to be working for Wildman. It is too bad I didn’t pay more attention when I was a kid about things like that.
Oh, I knew about some wild things both good and bad. I definitely knew not to touch poison ivy. I am one of the 4 out of 5 people that are allergic to it. I knew early on what it looked like and not to touch its leaves or its vines any time of the year. I lived in the woods. It was everywhere. Apparently our woods were not old growth woods where according to the Man it doesn’t grow. And apparently our woods had lots of carbon dioxide where it grows more abundantly according to a Duke University study quoted by the Wild guy. I don’t guess he or the researchers ever got to our 10 acres of woods on Tooles Bend Road, but I could have shown them some major poison ivy vines. Most of the kids in my neighborhood were just as cautious of the stuff as I was, but there was this one girl who said she wasn’t allergic to it. None of us believed her. We didn’t know there was one in 5 who were somehow immune. She bragged and bragged about being able to touch it and we scoffed until one day she said, “I’ll show you!” and she picked it and ate it right there in front of us.
It is too bad for her that Wildman Steve Brill hadn’t grown up to be the Wildman he is today because if she could have read his article, she would have known that if you push it too far, you can get un-allergic! That is right. That girl ended up in the hospital. Her insides were allergic like crazy! Fortunately, she didn’t die like some of the people the Wildman told about in his book. You should really read that part I linked up there. Poison ivy is nothing to play around with.
But there are some really good things in the wild, if you know what they are. My daddy knew a lot about them and I should have paid better attention. There were blackberries, wild strawberries, black walnuts, muscadines, persimmons, and poke. Those were the easy ones, the ones we could eat and I did because they were delicious. You did have to get them at their peak and not before or after. Before, the persimmons would pucker your mouth closed shut for days. After, some parts of the pokeweed would poison you. You had to be careful with wild stuff. But there were other things I didn’t take notice to when Daddy took me for walks—at least not the close kind of notice you ought to if you’re going to remember what to eat or drink that’s wild and not poison. There were rat’s vein and sassafras for example. Wish I had listened more about them. It was something about teas to make for ailments of some sort, but I wasn’t sick and didn’t expect to need to know that, I guess. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could take another walk in the woods with my Daddy. Today I’d know to pay better attention.
Since I can’t, I am really glad the Wildman has written his book. Maybe there’s hope for me after all. And what about the oxygen I thought all green stuff makes for us—even poison ivy? I’m going back and read that link again. Could be I wasn’t paying as close attention as I thought I was!