The first time I went to Paris, when I was 15, my mother was plagued with poison ivy. As we walked the streets of the City of Light, she had to stop every few meters to scratch, sneaker to calf. Finally, she’d had enough. There we were in the Louvre, in the famous Salon Carre, and there was my mum sitting on a bench, ignoring the art and tending to her afflicted left calf. Back at the hotel, we sent for a doctor — a well dressed Frenchman, sporting a beautiful suit, silk tie, and antique leather medical bag. “Oh yes, I know dis ivy. we put it in zee salades.” No, sir, I think you’re confused. An antihistamine was administered via a needle, and since then “poison ivy” has struck fear into the heart of the Reckling women.
There are a lot of other hazards in a garden. Like thorns. And flying insects. I have a serious problem with flying insects. Usually, they swarm me. First it starts with one fly, then a fly and a herd of gnats, then a fly a herd of gnats and some mosquitoes. It’s like they know I don’t like them and that I’m allergic to their bites and they like to torment me. I drop the clippers or spade. The next thing you know, I start dodging, like I’m Neo dodging Smith’s bullets, and swathing and running in a serpentine pattern. But it’s all in vain. They won’t go away. I’m the type of person who will be at a picnic with 5 other people and by the time we’ve packed our blanket, I have a dozen welts on me from mosquito bites. My companions will be untouched. If you plan to go into a buggy area, take me with you — I’m better than any insect repellent you can buy.