poison oak

I don’t want to be an alarmist but it’s poison oak season people! Every year we go on hikes and warn the kids not to frolic in the poison oak. Naturally the kids ask what it looks like and we always say, “Well…it’s a bush, and it’s got leaves that are maybe green, or red, or greenishredish. And they’re shiny.” But honestly, we can never remember until we are upon it, or more likely until someone says, “Is that a large poison oak bush you’re standing in?”

So here are some closeups – taken as great risk – for your edification.

The greenishredish version:

The just-plain-redish version:

A lovely trail-laced hillside. A perfect
place for the kids to run amok:

A perfect place LACED WITH EVIL:

Poison oak can be nasty. Some people get it real bad, others not as much (15% to 30% don’t seem to be adversely affected). Earlier in the year the leaves are small and green (no red). But even a bare branch in winter can get you.
The question you’re asking right now is, “What in tarnation is poison oak for?” The purpose of poison oak is so that you will, at some point in your life, face the existential choice: Do I want to believe in a god who would create poison oak and put it where I want to walk? Or, why would a loving god allow me to get such an uncomfortable rash? Just remember that, though the testing of your faith may result in an itchy rash, the testing of your faith also develops perseverance.
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