by Lin Stone
Mena has more country roads inside the city limits
than most towns do.
|One thing this area has plenty of is poison oak.
As you may recall, the entire poison-oak plant is covered with an oily resin.
The human skin can erupt in horrible itching when it comes in direct contact
with the oil. That can happen either by touching the plant or touching
something that has contacted it, such as clothing or firewood. Scratching
the wound does not alleviate the itching, but does spread the wound without
diluting the pain in any area. What
chemical does the damage? Urushiol is the poison scientists have tracked
down as the guilty culprit in the oil.
Native Americans used poison oak stems to make baskets and they used the sap to cure ringworm. They also used poison-oak sap to remove warts, corns, and calluses; to cauterize sores; and to stop bleeding. Some of them even had the nerve to drink a decoction made from poison-oak roots to treat dysentery.
On the other hand, goats love to chomp down on the stuff. In fact, five goats can clear off three acres so well of all its poison oak and kudzu in less than four years that it won't come back for ten.
Until July of 2004 the United States Government had one entire department searching wildly for a solution to the kudzu blitzkrieg. Way back in 1997 I happened to meet the director of that department and told him how well goats contain the problem. He hung his head for a moment as if in agony, and said, "I sure wish I could believe that was true."
"If you work it just right," I told him, "you can stretch the testing time out to five years. Surely you can find another cushy job by then."
In the South they were using bulldozers, motor oil, Roundup, and dozens of other applications, all to no avail. Now, Reader's Digest reports that some "fool" in Birmingham Alabama is now using sheep with great success. Why do they call a man a fool that is succeeding? Perhaps the U.S. Director will (someday soon) get to testing goats and sheep?
Speaking of roots, the leaves on yon tree called Sassafras has the ability to alleviate poison oak pain and itching. Take the green leaves (Click HERE for help in identifying the tree by its leaves) and gently make a tea. (uh, gently means: don't rush the boiling process.) Use the tea as a wash for the injured area. Another incidental, you will find that using this Sassafras tea to be the very best way to get your body (outside) clean in the forest. It is a great shampoo and works well for shaving as well. You will stay clean far longer, and rinsing is not necessary. Please note, I do not advocate the use of sassafras teas for inner cleansing. Click HERE for more information.
The Mena Library (featured here under a head of fall glory) is quietly progressive with no less than six online computers. Only once have I seen all of them going at once, but hey, they are there and the cursors are blinking. The staff inside is friendly and efficient. Shirley Philpot seems to be more helpful than anyone else there.
Then there are little houses on big lots
so the kids have room to grow in.
But my favorite spots
have water still and clear
with morning calm, peace and serenity.
Pine, oak varieties, and various fruit trees comprise 80% of the stock here.
Brush is so thick around Mena my goats can't eat through to the back four
acres. Oak trees in this area are suffering from beetle infestations. The
drought (that's finally been broken) is not helping a bit.
Click HERE for photos of the Old Cars in Mena. These cars may be old, but they made it to Mena. Some of them came from Connecticut, and some from California, , some floated up from Florida and one made it here from Michigan. Some of them came puttering and some puffing and some of them were hauled here on trailers behind brand new F-250s. There is one thing all of them have in common and that's pride; they all made it to the main street of Mena.
Every year about this time, there is an antique car show and a large area in town is barricaded off for the antique cars to park inside. Then the footloose and fancy free Antique Auto Admiration Association members wander through with their mouths hanging open and cameras flashing. One of my mile-trotting, do-gooding friends lives on DeQueen Street. Her home is inside the barricaded area. Consequently, when she came out last night to our big birthday party she was afraid she could not get back in.
"Why Mary, your car qualifies as an antique. It might not have the right number of years on it yet, but just you have them look at your speedometer and they will know you have already made it and with miles to spare."
From out of the night strange critters suddenly flash up beside the road.
Speaking of strange... I remember one night with a low slung car seeing a deer dead in the road flash up in my headlights. With a car slung that low I could have wrecked by hitting the deer, so I swerved, then swerved again to keep from going off the road. Then I turned around and came back to drag the deer off the road before someone else had a problem. Lo and Behold, the deer had been magically transformed into a bundled heap of quilt! Funny how different things look at night when you come upon them so suddenly.
Lin Stone is a writer, author, photographer. His personal web page is found at http://www.amazon.com/author/linstone/ An array of his talent can be read for free by visiting his Stone Soup page.
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