|Lovely but TOXIC!|
One week ago, I was working on the land my family is converting to a songbird and pollinator haven. It's a lot of work to free farm land, but it was something my father started in the mid 1980's. He's gone now, but we continue his quest. The work is hands-on, get-in-there and get-dirty-type-of-stuff, and with the temperatures expected to top 90 with humidity to match, I was dumb--so dumb. I wore shorts.
There's a non-native plant that originated in Eurasia that is taking over the rolling hills of southwestern Wisconsin, all of Wisconsin in fact. This plant grows in two stages. Year one, it's relatively small and innocent looking. But year two, it soars to five feet and sprouts a showy head of flowers with hundreds of seeds.
I was well aware that it is a poisonous plant, and I was also aware that it was growing on the land, but I thought it was mostly contained in a well defined area as it has been for the last few years. Not so much anymore. It was everywhere. But I was dumb. I didn't understand how wicked this stuff is, but I know now.
Wild parsnip leaves, stems and flowers are all oily and if that oil gets on your skin, you feel nothing, but add UV light, the stuff that causes sunburns even on cloudy days, you get instant sunburn quickly followed by second degree burns. Second degree burns involve the destruction of the skin layer. The oil literally explodes skin cells when mixed with light!
|Not my legs, but they look similar.|
I tried to avoid it, but based on the burn pattern on my legs, I apparently knelt in a patch. The burn showed up the next morning. The next morning, I could barely walk. A trip to the doctor and I'm on oral steroids and chronically checking for signs of infection. As the blisters pop, the pain is exquisite. My legs are swathed in leggings in an attempt to provide a second skin to my traumatized legs. It's nearly impossible to focus.
I'll get better. Eventually. But it occurred to me that this is a sign. Book three, the final chapters in the Legends of the Aurora trilogy, centers around an amazing garden, a Primordial Garden tended by an Elemental. Here's where the sign comes in. The working title of book three is Garden of Betrayal. While this garden is sublime, it hides infinite traps. Seems like a perfect place to plant a vicious wild parsnip. So while I may morph the plant into some other form, the horrific effects of this torture will make an appearance in the Garden of Betrayal.
I will have my revenge through words.