Surprise, Surprise!

We were in the 8th grade. It had been a long, gloomy winter and we were all sick of it. Here it was, the first day of February, and there was a Teacher’s Conference and we were discharged from school, early. Several of us boys decided that we would hike out to Elm Creek, about 1 ½ miles west, and go skinny-dipping. The temperature was probably in the 40’s but that was deemed to be “close enough” as we were ready for summer and swimming. We also thought it would be pretty cool to be able to brag that we had gone swimming on February 1st.

We got to the creek in short order, stripped off our clothes, and jumped in the water. Needless to say, that water was cold! We swam across the creek and back as fast as we possibly could and climbed out and headed for our clothes. We had left our clothes on a downed tree on the bank and thought they would be safe. There were some small vines attached to the tree trunk but since there were no leaves on them we didn’t give it a thought. We sat on the tree trunk and leaned on it as we got our clothes and shoes and socks on. We went on home and did the things we normally did. By bed-time my rear end and everything in the vicinity was on fire. I yelled for my folks and after explaining the problem and describing what I had done that day, they diagnosed it as a case of poison oak. Of course, they laughed at me and Mom went and got the bottle of Calamine lotion and told me to get busy applying it.

It never occurred to us that even though it was winter and there were no leaves, the vines themselves were toxic. Oh well, a few days and a bottle of Calamine lotion took care of the problem.

Dave Thomas
December 3, 2013


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