By Joe Rector

A quick swipe of the hand to rid a deck step of water ended with a painful outcome. The stained wood evidently was offended and fought back with a splinter. The darn thing felt like a 2 X 4 as it lodged in the first joint of my thumb. I dug around but couldn’t dislodge the splinter. A trip to the doctor proved fruitless as well since the PA worried about damaging a tendon. So, I visited TOC and Dr. Renfree. He dug and tugged and removed the nasty thing, and only after a couple of more visits to him did he pronounce my thumb better and free of any infection. It was just another one of the many summer boo-boos I’ve had throughout the years.

As a boy, going barefoot when warm weather arrived was standard. Of course, like any child who tramped around a country yard filled clover, my foot squished a bee. I squalled as if I’d been shot. Mother came to the rescue. She removed the stinger and then applied a paste of baking soda and water. Before long, the pain subsided enough for me to return to play.

Jim and I always searched for things to do in the summer. We’d pull out Daddy’s tools and work away to build something. We had no idea what the final product would be, but that made no difference. However, at some point, one of us would take an unfortunate step and drive a nail through our tennis shoe and into our foot. Again, the injured boy would scream bloody murder, and again, Mother came to the rescue. Part of the agony of stepping on a nail was the realization that a trip to the doctor for a tetanus shot was coming. The day’s fun abruptly came to an end.

Not as painful, but every bit as agonizing, were the extra things we brought home from blackberry picking. Sure, we’d wear a few bloody spots from briars, but by the evening, the real problem began. Chiggers always managed to find an unprotected spot to burrow under our skin. The itch was maddening; Mother painted the spots with fingernail polish in an effort to get rid of the intruding critters.

Every summer, both Jim and I knew that we’d have at least one bout with poison ivy. We were highly allergic to the stuff, and no matter how carefully we watched for the plant, the oils from it would somehow wind up on our skin. When we were little, we cried as the itching spread across arms and legs. On some occasions, the stuff infected our eyes, and they were swollen shut. Gallons of calamine lotion covered our skin, and Mother would fan us in an effort to keep up us cool to keep the itching to a minimum. We boys knew that at some point a trip to the doctor for a cortisone shot would come, and as much as we hated needles, we knew that the injection would more quickly stop the poison ivy’s creeping across our skin.

As long as I manage to get outside during the summer, I’ll pull some “bone-headed” stunt that will end in some kind of wound or itch. Still, summer is my favorite time of year, and I’m willing to risk a few boo-boos to enjoy the weather and the season. My goal is just to be a bit more careful and smarter for the rest of the season.