Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Poison Oak Bouquet



One day during the Fall in the early 1970s, we were hiking in Big Basin Park in the Santa Cruz mountains. It was sizzling hot, Indian Summer, the only evidence of Fall under the redwoods, were the brilliant splashes of red leaves of the poison oak, shining like sirens in the understory.

At the overlook, we interrupted a soldier on leave with his girl. He was dressed in army fatigues, and sounded like he was from Tennessee, probably stationed at Fort Ord. She looked like she had stepped out of American Bandstand. Ratted hair in a flip, big bows and buttons. Clearly visitors from another planet.

The soldier was busy gathering armfuls of brilliantly colored poison oak for his lady love. When they spotted us, instead of greeting us, they scowled, refused to make eye contact, and treated us as if we were invisible.

We watched, flabbergasted as he gathered armloads of poison oak. I said, Excuse me, sir...  Not quite knowing how to begin to tell him. He may have been rude, but no one deserved a fate like that—especially not his girl.


But being Californians, we were perceived as the enemy,  we were automatically labeled "hippies" with our long hair, etc., so they sneered at us, and of course, he refused to listen to my plea not to pick it. If anything, he went at it with a vengeance. Soon he had armloads of the stuff, which he deposited on his lady's lap.

It all must've ended rather badly. I bet they were both hospitalized...especially since they were so busy groping each other all afternoon long. By that evening, I'm sure there was no place left untouched, as it were. Worse than the seven-year-itch.


These beauties are from Soda Rock Lane, Healdsburg, 2009. I have the year wrong.



I once ran into a soldier from the Deep South on leave with his girl at Big Basin park in the Santa Cruz mountains—he was gathering armfuls of brilliantly colored poison oak for his lady love. We, being Californian, were perceived as "hippies" with long hair, etc., so they sneered at us, and of course, refused to listen to my plea not to pick it. It must've ended badly for them. I bet they were hospitalized...especially since they were pawing each other.