I went to bed Thursday night with a nice and shiny black SUV in my driveway. I woke up with a sickening yellow SUV in my driveway. Like a sneak attack from above, the pollen season is upon us.
My eyes are red and runny and my eyelids are swollen. My sinuses feel like those old television commercials for headache medicine. You know the ones. They featured an anvil right behind the eyes of a drawing of a man — obviously a man who lived in the North Georgia Piedmont — and a hammer was pounding on the anvil constantly.
Come to think of it, there might have been an anvil on either side of the drawing’s nasal cavity. I feel like I have 12 in my head today.
My nose is running (and before you ask, yes, my feet probably do smell) and I can’t seem to keep my hands away from my eyes and nose no matter how many times my lovely wife, Lisa, tells me to stop touching my eyes and nose.
The pollen is affecting her, too. Her nose is constantly red. Yes, it runs, too. Her feet do not smell, however.
Why here? You might ask. Why is there so much pollen in our air? Why do the weathermen — and ladies — have to tell us every afternoon the percentages of pollen particles in the air we are attempting to breathe? Why is the pollen index going to get so high that most of us consider, for a fleeting moment, moving west of the Mississippi River or north of the Arctic Circle jut to get away from the annoyance that comes from living in Georgia in the spring of the year?
You want the scientific answer or the real answer? OK, I will give you both.
Blame it on the late spring. Remember how cold the winter was? Remember the days we closed school because it was so cold? Remember the days we closed school because of the snow and ice? Remember the days we closed school because we thought there would be snow and ice? Remember how cold it has been as recently as last week?
Well Mother Nature has been paying attention, too. In a mild winter our plants begin releasing pollen a lot earlier — and they release it the way I have paid for cars most of my life — a little down and a little along. Not this year. This year Mother Nature was taking no chances. She waited until she was sure winter was gone and that means that the concentration of pollen, which is really just getting started, I am sorry to say, will be more concentrated than usual.
Good news, right?
Now that’s the scientific reason for what may be a record-breaking year for breathing in yellow stuff and washing our cars every three days — not to mention our porches, decks and lawn furniture. I am assuming I didn’t need to go all the way back to the birds and the bees. I mean, you do know the purpose of pollen, right?
Now here is the real reason. It is the price we have to pay for living in the American South. Everything in life is a trade-off. Just look around you the next time you go outside. I mean if it is before June. The colors are spectacular. The Bradford pears and Japanese cherry trees have given us a spectacular show this spring. I cannot remember them ever being more beautiful.
There are yellow flowers everywhere — daffodils, jonquils, yellow bells. I am not usually partial to the color, but I make an exception this time of year. We are about to have pink and white dogwood blossoms everywhere we look. Magnificent purple wisteria is everywhere, and the azaleas are about to be bursting out all over.
You think we can enjoy all of that beauty without paying a price? I would say it is a pretty good tradeoff. I can stand driving an ugly yellow car around for a few weeks and every time I have ever gotten a headache I have gotten over it eventually. If you are having difficulties with your allergies, I know a brilliant young pharmacist who can hook you up with some OTC medication that will do wonders.
Or you can take a vacation in a different climate. They tell me New Jersey is nice this time of year. Or maybe you could spend a week or two in the middle of the Caribbean. I’ve done that a time or two and have yet to see a pine tree growing out of the ocean.
In fact, I think that is exactly what I will do. I haven’t had a vacation in a day or two.
Will somebody let me know when the squigglies are gone?