Anything is Possible!

With Love, Hope, and Perseverance

SoCS: What Ifs, Wildlife, and the Revenge of the Pokeweed


Thanks to Linda Hill for today’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday : “if.” Start your post with the word “If.” Enjoy!

If you’ve ever read Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “If,” you will know it is inspiring. It inspired me when I was in my early teens. Then, when I was in my early twenties, I saw an “If for girls” and an “If for boys,” in a gift store. It made me really mad. You see, the original “If” by Rudyard Kipling ended with the words, “You’ll be a man my son.” I overlooked that and took to heart all the ifs he listed, like, “If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too, ” which I remember by heart. The idea that those “ifs” by Kipling could not apply to me, and that I had to have a separate If poem about sugar and spice and everything nice, (I really don’t remember what it was about, but it must’ve been something like that) really irked my feminist spirit in the 70s. I’m glad I haven’t come across it since, so maybe I should let it go for now.

Here’s a practical warning: If you ever come across pokeweed, with it’s strikingly beautiful, dark magenta berries and stems, BEWARE! Here’s a picture or three.

Those of you who’ve been here regularly know that I’ve allowed an urban forest to grow in my backyard. I thought the pokeweed berries were pretty. Such an interesting color. So I let them grow, mostly where they wanted. I’d read that the berries have been used for dye, but to be careful, because they are also poisonous.

Since the pokeweed dies off in the late fall, I decided to cut or pull up about half of it on Sunday. I wore gloves, but did not wear long sleeves. The pokeweed is the only thing I can imagine that has caused an awful, itchy rash on my arms from where I carried the cut stems and leaves to the curbside plastic trash can for pick up. I won’t show you the photo of my rash, because, well, this is not Facebook, so I’ll spare you those details. But it’s weird that the blisters continue to emerge after five days. Thank God for benadryl and prednisone. One for night time and the other for daytime. I bought a long sleeved men’s shirt at the thrift store for when I cut (or more likely pull up) the remaining pokeweed after it’s all brown and dried out. Maybe I should wear a mask.

On a more positive note, lets imagine good what ifs. What if we all start learning how to get along better? What if we start protecting the planet better? What if we get a fun surprise? What if I make it to 90 years old and still have all my teeth? What if your dreams come true? What if you fly?

Speaking of flying. I took some photos of an egret yesterday at the lake with my friend. It was hard to get close without the bird flying away. But that’s okay. It came back. Plus there were alligators!

Egret incoming


For more Streams of Consciousness, rules, etc, visit our host, Linda Hill and join me in sending prayers or good wishes for her son Alex to feel better.

Author: JoAnna

An open minded, tree-hugging Jesus follower, former counselor, and life-long lover of animals, I'm returning to my creative roots and have published my first book: Trust the Timing, A Memoir of Finding Love Again as well as the short version: From Loneliness to Love.

30 thoughts on “SoCS: What Ifs, Wildlife, and the Revenge of the Pokeweed

  1. I am so sorry about the poke weed. Nature does have some fierce defenders. Outside of that, your post is inspiring. Thank you for giving me space to breathe a little. Your photos are beautiful.

  2. A fine post, even if the pokeweed got its revenge. You did well to pan the landing

    • Thanks, Derrick. I’m glad you liked the post. I have not heard the term, “pan the landing” before and guess it’s about looking carefully before I step and reach.

      • Here is a Collins dictionary definition of pan in the sense that I used it:
        If you pan a film or television camera or if it pans somewhere, it moves slowly round so that a wide area is filmed.
        The camera panned along the line of players. [VERB preposition/adverb]
        He panned over the crowd for a few minutes before swivelling back to the right. [VERB preposition/adverb]
        A television camera panned the stadium. [VERB noun]
        He panned the camera, giving a sense of motion. [VERB noun]
        [Also VERB]

  3. Love your photos!

  4. It would be great if we could all get along better and work together to protect our planet. Beautiful photos.

    • Do you suggest the pokeweed should grow where it wants to? That sounds argumentive, doesn’t it? Don’t mean to be. But I thought the “protect planet” people were against disturbing nature. I have some poke but not much. It hasn’t bothered us. But you can bet the poison ivy gets poisoned and removed as quickly as possible. But the poke? As JoAnna stated, it has pretty berries. Our neighbor sometimes harvests a bit of our poke leaves to make poke salad. Or am I mixed up? What I have must not be poisonous. Can someone straighten me out? 😀

      • I was wondering about the salad’s too. Apparently it has to be boiled twice and is poisonous when raw. This is the first time I’ve had this reaction. After one week, the rash is still going strong. I’ve read the toxicity is stronger in more mature plants which these were. I cut most of them near the base since they die off in winter anyway and the leaves have started to turn brown. They are so prolific, that if I pull the rest up up by the roots, I bet they’ll be back in the spring. Maybe I just won’t let them get so tall next year.

  5. I am sorry Kipling’s poem made you angry. When I read it first in my thirties I simply added a line: “and you’ll be a woman my daughter” 🤗

  6. Pokeweed is actually the main ingredient in poke salad (or poke sallet). You have to boil the heck out of it before you can eat it, but it’s supposed to be good. Remember Tony Joe White’s “Poke Salad Annie”?

    Kipling’s poem doesn’t have to be bowdlerized to have meaning to both boys and girls. I’d’ve been upset, too. Yes, it’s a father talking his son, but he could just as easily be talking to his daughter, and for that matter a mother could be saying it to her daughter or son. The principles don’t change regardless of the teller or the hearer.

    • Thank you for understanding about Kipling’s poem. I agree 100%. We don’t need a separate poem for girls. Listening to “Polk Salad Annie” from your link just now, I remember the tune and the mama working on a chain gang part. Thanks for the re-visit. I’m still staying far away from the pokeweed for now.

  7. “I won’t show you the photo of my rash, because, well, this is not Facebook, so I’ll spare you those details.” I’m still laughing at that, JoAnna.

    I love your photos, and the video of the egret. The sound made me think it was a plane landing.

    I like your thoughts around “ifs” and I hope you’re having a great weekend.

  8. Thank you for sharing your adventures and lovely photos!!.. nature has a way of protecting its own in spite of appearances… Rhubarb can be deadly if not cooked properly and not every mushroom is edible and one has the lovely berries of black nightshade, all is common and can be deadly if caution is not used.. sometimes it is best to accept things as they are and admire from a distance… 🙂

    Until we meet again…
    May love and laughter light your days,
    and warm your heart and home.
    May good and faithful friends be yours,
    wherever you may roam.
    May peace and plenty bless your world
    with joy that long endures.
    May all life’s passing seasons
    bring the best to you and yours!
    (Irish Saying)

    • I didn’t know that about rhubarb. You’ve got me thinking about how birds and other animals can eat some things that are poisonous to humans and how that diversity makes sense. Thank you for your wise insight and the poem.

  9. Pretty photos of the egret. The lake looks relaxing. The pokeweeds not so much.

  10. Lovely musings and photos JoAnna. Yes, pokeweed is pretty and a fast spreader. Sorry about the rash. I didn’t know they could do that.

    • Thanks, Brad. I’m glad you enjoyed the musings and photos. I don’t remember having this reaction to pokeweed before, but it’s the only logical explanation. I’ll be much more careful from now on.

  11. So sorry you got poisoned by the pokeweed. I never knew it could give you a rash. I saw some along our property line, and I will certainly steer clear!

    Leave Kipling alone! His advice is universal! I agree with you about a “version for girls!”

    Lovely photos. I didn’t know there were alligators that far north. 🙂

    Great post, JoAnna!

    • Thanks, Cheryl. I don’t recall having this kind of reaction from pokeweed before, but it’s the only thing I can think of to do this. Prednisone is helping a lot. Glad you liked the photos. I think North Carolina is as far north as the gators go. We actually saw two that day.

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