Marital immunity? Scratch that


As we tally the final numbers at summer’s end, we find that with the arrival of cooler weather goes what little hope we had that this would be the year of our greatest garden yet.

This should come as no surprise since we haven’t had any luck whatsoever with a garden before.

This year was going to be different. I was going to be a regular victory gardening green thumb.

Instead, I harvested a bounty that consisted of a handful of green beans, six tomatoes and two watermelons no bigger than pears.

Fortunately, what we lack in gardening acumen we more than make up for in our amazing ability to grow the one crop that is known to all and coveted by none: poison ivy.

Ours is a poison ivy farm.


We live on the site of a once-thriving apple orchard. Every once in a while someone asks if we do anything with the apples that still grow, small and tart, on our long untended trees.

I explain that while they do make good applesauce, we find that the exchange rate for home-canned applesauce to five gallon buckets of calamine lotion rarely comes out in our favor.

For the most part we leave the orchard — and the ivy — alone.

Mr. Wonderful can enjoy our woods with impunity. He is not reactive to poison ivy.

Ignores and plunders

For the most part he blithely ignores the whole “leaves of three, let it be” prophecy and plunders into it without so much as a blister or an itch.

The children, as near as we can tell, are enjoying that same good fortune. Meanwhile I could only assume that his resistance to it did not convey to me upon our marriage.

Nonetheless, most days I don’t give our bumper crop of poison ivy much thought. I am not one to walk down the driveway for the mail, let alone purposely go wandering off the beaten path in search of a rash.


Flush with his ongoing popularity as the Most Fun Dad Ever, Mr. Wonderful and the small wonders recently decided to build a tree house together. They spent quality time out in the barn, pounding and sawing and plotting and planning.

Finally, after something like 10 days of this (during which I helpfully pointed out on day nine that the entire universe took only a week), they decided it was time to actually attach the house to the tree.

Apparently, a “tree” as it turns out, is an integral part of tree house construction. Without the tree I guess you’d just call it a box?

Clearly, Mr. Wonderful is not nearly as sedentary and suspicious of nature as I am. Thus, I teach the children all about nice, safe, indoor things like arts, crafts and the love of good books.

He teaches them all about building and digging and bats (the slugging and the flying kinds).

I, it should be noted, have never seen this architectural marvel. It is, I am told, a surprise. It would turn out to be a surprise all right but not in the way they — if not nature — intended.


On the 10th day they erected the tree house. On the 11th day I awoke with a nagging itch. It would wake half the day but eventually it would blossom into a nice little rash. Poison ivy I presume.

I can only surmise that my loved ones, erecting the tree house in prime ivy territory, traipsed the poisonous oils in on their clothes and shoes. I, in turn, picked up those shoes and voila — the rash.

You see what I mean about nature? Even when I give it wide berth it does nothing but torment me. Me, the woman who had yet to set foot into the woods had been brutally attacked by the flora and the fauna in my very own home.


I updated Mr. Momentarily-Less-Wonderful on my itchy situation. He admitted, abashed, that he was aware that the tree house was located in prime ivy territory although not being terribly allergic, he didn’t give the ivy much thought.

This is what happens when a person marries Nature Boy. He’s bound to track some of that fresh air, sunshine and other assorted natural nonsense indoors eventually I guess.

He did have the good sense to apologize profusely. It’s not calamine lotion but a meaningful “I’m sorry!” really can soothe.

That’s the thing about fathers’ resistance to things that irritate mere mortals, and mothers who react.

No immunity

Smart spouses, no matter how rugged, realize fairly quickly that there is absolutely no immunity known to man (or Mother Nature) that can protect them from irritated wives.

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