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Letter: Beware of poison ivy as you hike

To the Editor:

As I was climbing Barn Bluff the other day, I was reminded of my resolve to make a public comment about the prevalence of poison ivy on the south trail. Reminded because the normally shiny green leaf had turned yellow and it popped out at me against the background. In this state it is no less potent even though it has lost its shine.

Normally I wouldn't presume to make such a comment, thinking that everybody can identify and avoid this poisonous plant. Growing up in Red Wing. my friends and I were trained by the Boy Scouts and, I dare say, since we were out in the woods constantly, by experience in plant lore. We knew what to look out for and what to do if we came in contact with the plant.

But awhile back I was disabused of that notion when I encounter a busload of kids from the Cities out on a field trip. There were 30 boys and girls starting out on the south trail, yelling and screaming and showing off. About five the boys, acting on the call of nature, went off the trail about 10 feet to do their business.

Except it wasn't just their business; they made sure it was public business, which made me think their lack of plant knowledge wasn't the only thing they were lacking (how about manners and some class).

When I spoke up and said they just walked through a bunch of poison ivy and they should wash their bare legs, they were astounded and had no idea what I was talking about. Showing off to the girls, they said they could care less and had no fear of it.

This made me chuckle. I thought, "They will care in the morning when they breakout in a rash and start to itch."

So that is why I am making this public comment because apparently there are people who don't know what poison ivy is and what it looks like.

When you are on the south trail of Barn Bluff, look out for this plant.

Chris Rayner

Red Wing