Monday, April 15, 2013

Pine Pollenocalypse

I couldn't put off cutting the grass any longer, despite knowing that the plume of pollen rising above the lawnmower would be visible all the way to Pittsboro.  So rather than focus on the horrific events of Boston today, I decided to contemplate the wonders of our springtime Pollen Bowl.  In fact, if you yellow-washed a Dorothea Lange photo, it's pretty much what it looks like around here.
You can always tell when someone has moved to North Carolina or one of the surrounding states if you see them out rinsing off their car or washing their porch within the first couple of days of Pollenocalypse.  They obviously don't know that they'll be doing that every day for at least 10 days, maybe longer.  As soon as it gets warm enough to crank up the grill and start using the deck, your spring gets delayed by a couple of weeks until you're sure that it's really over and you can spend a couple of days scrubbing pollen out of all the things you forgot to bring in off the screen porch.
Long before our state became known for tobacco, textiles, college basketball and nutball conservative senators, North Carolina was the leading provider of naval stores in the colonies.  The state was covered from coast to mountains with long-leaf pines, making a huge source of tar, pitch and masts - and making the long-leaf pine nearly extinct.  Most of what we have now are loblolly pines, I think.  I'm guessing if long-leaf pines dumped pollen the way the loblollys do, they'd have cut them down faster.
It is my understanding that pine pollen is not an allergen (particles are too big) but it's damn sure an irritant.  After spending the weekend in the mountains, I got home Sunday evening and between the driveway and the door, my mouth felt like I'd barely survived a Saharan sandstorm.  It gets in the corner of your eyes, between your teeth and underneath the waistband of your underwear.  It has caused me to almost wreck the motorcycle on more than one occasion - never ride with an open-face helmet this time of year.
I know it will all be over in a couple of weeks, but until then I'm staying inside, running on the track at the Wellness Center and not opening any windows.


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