Poison Ivy. Shiny. Pretty. The smooth black grey vines are interrupted by "knuckles" and a change of direction by the vine. The photo below shows a knuckle on the lower right. My first encounter with this lovely was as an eight-year old camping in Point Pelee National Park, Ontario, Canada. Camp Henry. Every evening the head camp counselor made rounds with a little hand operated pump filled with DDT. While we were out at the bathrooms in our jammies brushing our teeth, he would be misting our cabins with clouds of DDT so we wouldn't be bothered by anything nasty or harmful like clouds of mosquitoes. Psscht. Psscht. Psscht. I thought I could actually taste it when we got back to the cabins. But I didn't really mind the smell.
In the early years my mother made a point of packing us kids and our supper and driving to the point - Point Pelee, to escape the farm when Dad was spraying in the evening. After he sprayed poison he would come into the house, sit at the kitchen table and drink about a quart of milk. It was suppose to counteract any harmful effect of the poison. Decades later you could still smell DDT in the rubber hoses used to deliver it onto the fields. Back at camp, every morning after devotions we were marched down to the west beach for a swim. I hated it. I did not like large bodies of cold deep water. Lake Erie is a large body of deep water and it is cold at ten o`clock in the morning and we would for some odd reason have to bob out to a sandbar and then bob back. Anyway, I must have brushed against some Poison Ivy on one of these morning excursions because after a day or two of being in camp, my right ankle developed some weeping little spots all in a running row as if a leaf tip had traced across. Itch and itch and itch.
I put up with it and the DDT until when I finally got home at the end of the week and plastered Calamine lotion onto it which dried the stuff right up. Calamine today is thin and watery and I'm afraid to say, not as effective as the thick goopey Calamine of old. DDT has long been banned. And we were not given milk to counteract it's effects at Camp Henry. I often wondered as I nursed my babies. DDT and milk and poison ivy. In my mind it's all connected.