Gap Road Gem

Have you ever had one of those learning moments that did not come easy? I mean, the learning curve was filled with tremendous physical pain? I have many of those, but none worse than the summer of 2003.

In August of 2000 my three children and I moved into the home I currently live in. At that time the house and the property were a mess. “Country rules” applied.

By that I mean car parts were scattered everywhere. There was a broken down car on the hill behind our house. Part of the old mobile home was not removed from the property instead it was pushed to the edge of the yard and over grown by blackberry vines. An out of sight out of mind mentality.

A huge pile of trash was in the front yard ready to be burned. The front deck and part of the garage were rotten and needed to be rebuilt, and tires were everywhere. In fact, I still have around 60 tires that are piled up in the back of the garage. Ready to be hauled off, as soon as I find a tire recycling business.

No landscaping had been done in years, and hours of work were needed to install a fire trail around the house. This area tends to dry out here quickly during the summer, and all it takes is one careless smoker, or one stray spark and our hill will go up in a matter of minutes.

Several trips were made to the local recycling center and dump. Eventually, over time, flowerbeds were built; new decks were built on the front and back of the house. As well as, a bonfire pit behind the garage and pump house. A greenhouse and garden spot were constructed; fruit trees were planted, as well as Fir trees, ornamental plants and various landscaping bushes.

This year will be the first year, since moving here, that I will not be busy all summer long. There are no major projects that need to be completed, or pick-up loads of trash and recycling materials that need to be hauled off. In a way I am relieved, but yet a bit sad.

Some of the best individual times I have had with my children have been while working in the yard and over a good hot debris fire. This morning I was thinking about one of those times.

We had an area that Daniel and I named, shortly after moving here, “The abyss.” I am not sure why we named it that, we just did. It was an area that was completely overgrown with native plants, tall grass, and too many wild cherry trees, and of course poison oak.

We spent the better part of 3 weeks cutting, raking and clearing the area out. By the time we were done we had a pile of debris ready to burn that was about 30 feet wide, 40 feet long and 10 feet high.

What I didn’t take into account was the fact that some of the debris should not have been burned. Unknown to me at the time when poison oak is burned the oil in the plant becomes an air borne plague!

As the pile was burning Daniel asked me why some of the leaves had oil on them, and if that was why parts of the burn pile was more smoky than other parts. I just shrugged my shoulders and said I wasn’t sure.

We worked around the burning slash pile for most of the day. Moving from one place to another, repositioning the debris so it would all burn, all the while as the smoke engulfed us. Not once did I stop to think about the smoke, or think about what we were burning. Not until the following morning that is.

When I woke up I was in pain. Every part of my body, which was not covered by clothing, had a horrible red oozing rash. I had poison oak, and I had it bad!

Most of the poison oak was centralized around my face, neck, and top of my head. I had poison oak in and around my ears, my eyes, up my nose and completely covering my neck. Thankfully the poison oak was on the exterior part of my body. It could have easily spread into my mouth, down my throat and into my lungs.

I tried for a few days to battle the rash. I did all the standard home remedies, yet none of them worked. Within a couple of days I had to go to urgent care. I knew I was going to need a prescription for some type of steroid pills and an anti-itch cream.

The next 10 days were miserable. The steroid prescription messed with my sleep pattern, the rash itched, and to add insult to injury, we did not have any A/C in the house. That summer was one of our warmest summers on record. Fans in the window helped, but then we had flies in the house, and I hate flies!

That was the summer I learned, really learned, the meaning of the saying “Leaves of three, leave it be.”

I will miss, to a certain extent, all of those times. With all of my children grown and moving on with their lives those memories are what I have left. Memories of our early days in the country on the property I have since named “Gap road gem.”

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