Out our kitchen window I can see my little girl Nell playing with her new best friend Gina. Since moving to rural Vermont two months ago, the girls have become inseparable. They are both four years old and about the same height but that’s where the physical similarities end.
Nell is a green-eyed lanky Irish redhead covered in a profusion of freckles while Gina is a slightly plump Italian beauty with brown doe eyes, smooth tanned skin and lustrous black hair.
As I stand at the kitchen sink I can see the girls playing in the yard. Their energy is boundless as they dash back and forth from the swings to the trampoline to their bikes.
Moving around the house doing my chores, I can hear Gina counting, followed by a loud “ready or not…here I come”, then the hysterical giggles as Nell’s secret (but usual!) hiding place is discovered.
The yard is fenced in and I’m completely conscious of where the girls are and what they’re doing .. most of the time. Occasionally they’ll wander into a concealed corner of the garden to pick wild flowers for me and Gina’s mom. Even though I can’t see them, I can clearly hear their conspiratorial mumblings as they go from one blossom to the other.
“Buttercups and Lilys of the Valley” whispered Gina.
“And some of this pretty shiny ivy” added Nell. “Mommy likes shiny things.”
All was quiet and I presumed the girls were waiting for me to come downstairs and present me with a freshly-picked bouquet. But to my amazement on the crisp white linen dining room tablecloth sat a short blue glass vase brimming with buttercups, lilys and ivy. It was breathtaking. I stood there admiring the green, white and golden cluster when suddenly I heard woeful whimpering and sobbing coming from the porch.
And there, huddled closely under the wicker chair were Nell and Gina, their little bodies covered in itchy red rashes. Only then did I realize the vine in the vase with the flowers was poison ivy!
“Come with me, my sweet girls. It’s nothing a little calamine lotion won’t fix. Thank you for the flowers .. the most beautiful I’ve ever seen! Won’t daddy be surprised when he comes home tonight!” I said, smiling and chuckling wistfully to myself.
And tomorrow we will rid our garden of all the pretty shiny ivy.
NAR © 2018