I little suspected that at that very moment my unlucky comrade was lying on a buffalo-robe at Fort Laramie, fevered with ivy poison, and solacing his woes with tobacco and Shakespeare.
~ Francis Parkman, The Oregon Trail
On an afternoon hike last month I went down a gully to inspect the rusted husk of an ancient Ford that had been dumped there God knows when. For my curiosity I got a bad case of poison oak. There’s only a relic itch now but at its worst my swollen, blistered forearm looked like a piece of meat that had been turned on a barbeque. Next time I’ll try Parkman’s prescription (it can’t be any less effective than calamine lotion). But what’s the proper dosage? An act of The Taming of the Shrew maybe? A choice scene from MacBeth? I was so desperate for relief three weeks ago I might even have re-read A Midsummer Night’s Dream.