Never Garden on Your Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday, a real thirty-something affair, with my amazing husband skipping work to make a day out of it. I loused it up and I am now reeling from pain.

It started-off grand. We dropped the kiddos off at preschool together, then rode the train to a pretty rad part of Tokyo. We gobbled liqueur doughnuts. I’d nibbled two by 10 am, very enthusiastically. We hung around the area and sipped Prosecco in an Italian courtyard. We passed outdoor coffee tables made of skateboards and I tried on heels from Bangkok. We made the day pretty fun, then rushed to get the kids.


Everything would have been delicious, amazing, more than fine. But no. I had to trim the little tree in our front yard. After all, it nearly touched the neighbor’s wall.

Why, o, why, did I have to snip and pull those ivy vines? Why’d I have to mess with the perfection of a birthday?


Because I am both greenery hippie and wannabe florist. Because I thought time in soil brought balance and something enlightened, a moment to reflect. (Shaking head, sadly, like a mother seeing her child putting both legs in the leg hole, repeatedly). I brought in a handful of branches from the tree I snipped. I carried them in, barehanded. I plunked them in my crystal vase at the kitchen sink, and only five minutes later, I freaked the hell out. Freaked out. First I saw one caterpillar, then another, and another, until I was full-on cursing while kids and husband watched Sesame Street in the adjoining room. I wriggled that disgusto-dance we chicks do when we even hear the word “lice”. It was bad.


This morning I woke up one digit older with a neck and forearms on fire. Then it became my tummy and hips. Those buggers got me everywhere. It’s their little nasty hairs. They sense danger and BAM. Somehow they try to kill you. Suddenly you’re me, biking to the dermatologist’s office when the sky is threatening big rain. You’re paying a big lot for the visit and meds, and wishing that little tube of steroid creme was to be applied every five minutes, because no way the 2-3 times a day treatment will do anything. And Claritin. Neither is doing anything to help.

Websites say these gross catastrophes may last a solid few weeks. Nah, dog. I don’t think this is how I should roll into this thirty-something year. My kids go to touch me and I nearly scream. My daughter hugged my arm and poor thing, I made her cry, just responding to the painful itch. I may be driven to meet toothless criminals in alleyways of Shibuya to get on some non-insured experimental drugs. I may be driven to sleepless madness at 3:40 am and chop down that bugger of a tree, just in case any are lurking. You see how quickly one can lose everything they love because they couldn’t just enjoy a doughnut and some downtime?

So thanks, you nasty little caterpillars. You ruined my birthday and messed me up good. Hear that, you little twerps? I’m older now and wiser. Listen–no matter how much your inner green space wants to, don’t go near a garden on your birthday. Don’t look at dirt. Don’t muse over floral spray. If you must have a flower, let it be silk, or construction paper. Let nature come by way of dolphins on a CD. Give up eggs and only support pasteurization. The only living things should be us. 

(Too far?)

PS You understand why I had to buy a two-pack of insecticide from the store and kill them all.

PSS The next time I engage in a moment of gardening, I will look like a hypochondriac beekeeper. Seriously, I don’t think I’ll get any sleep. Talk to me, anyone who’s up.

10 thoughts on “Never Garden on Your Birthday

  1. My husband was putting a net up on his cherry tree so the birds wouldn’t get all the cherries, when a caterpillar fell off the tree, rolled down his neck and then over his hand. The next day…ouch! He had to go to the dermatologist too, so I know how bad you must have been.

    This was a few years ago and neither of us can look at caterpillars anymore!

    • Ugh. Rolled onto his neck? How creepy! I cannot imagine the pain from such direct contact! Thanks for your sweet empathy! Guess we’ll all be more aware now, huh. I love hearing that you have a cherry tree! Does it produce much fruit?

      • I don’t think so, the birds usually get the cherries anyway.

        The tree is at his house, where his mother lives, so I don’t have that much to do with it. I did live there at the time, but not now.

  2. Pingback: My Birthday, Her Birthday and All That Collective Age | Melibelle in Tokyo

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