Pollen count

I love spring, but it doesn’t always love me. Which is why Zyrtec – or more precisely, its generic cousin – is my friend. Without my daily dose of this miracle drug (and the copious amount of local honey I consume) to keep me on the straight and narrow, I would be nothing more than a phlegmy, sniffling, sneezing, runny-eyed mess.

Allergy sufferers, you know what I mean.

This year, despite my faith in my anti-histamine of choice, I find myself living in fear. It started last week during my weekly golf league when one of my shots went awry and, um... OK. Fine. I hit a tree.

That in and of itself isn’t really shocking. The noxious cloud of pollen released after my ball made contact, however, was. It was all I could do not to run for the hills screaming, “Run, run for your lives!”

But I suppressed my panic, and my fight or flight impulse, and continued the round. I thought it best not to show fear. Particularly since shrieking like a little girl is frowned upon out on the golf course.

By the time we finished our 9 holes and retired to the club house for our usual post-league beverage, I’d almost forgotten the incident. Until, that is, I watched one of my fellow golfers hit an errant shot of her own. I couldn’t help but gasp at the sight of the giant bilious green cloud of pollen disturbed by the ball when it came in contact with one of the tall evergreens which separate the 17th fairway from that of the adjacent 18th. Even from the safety of the deck, easily 150 yards or more away, it was disconcerting.

I allowed myself to be distracted by the arrival of our meals, and the camaraderie of our fellow Gofers (as our Thursday ladies league at Canasawacta is known). But the thought of all that pollen haunted my dreams that night. So much so that, when I left for work the next morning and found my car completely coated with the stuff, I pinched myself. Surely this is a nightmare, I thought.

But alas, it was all too real.

Pollen was everywhere as I drove to work that morning. A thick layer cover seemingly every surface and it looked like someone had dumped buckets of it under each tree. Never before had I seen anything like it. I’m sure there’s a logical explanation, something to do with our late spring and Mother Nature working overtime to kickstart the truncated growing season.

But I’m not going to lie. The sight made my blood run cold. Why? Because I’ve always thought of allergens as an invisible foe. Seeing all that pollen – and in such large quantity – made its threat that much more real. And even though my trusty Zyrtec was holding the line, I feared my histamine-blocking defenses would soon be overwhelmed.

They were truly tested that evening, which I spent in Ithaca with a friend. As we strolled through the tree-lined streets, I marveled at how the lake-side community was at least a week ahead of us here in the rolling hills. Lilacs and other flowering trees were in full bloom, and the cherry and apple trees were blossoming. It was gorgeous.

I joked about living on borrowed time with my allergies. Stupid of me, I know. Because, as luck would have it, the words had barely left my lips when I noticed a slight tickle at the back of my throat. Then came the urge to rub my eyes, which were suddenly incredibly itchy. Next would come the tearing, I knew, followed by the sneezing and nasal congestion. Because I was already on the slippery slope to a full-blown allergy attack.

I signed, knowing that it was time to look up another old friend. Goes by the name Benadryl.

Happy allergy season! I mean, Happy spring!

Follow me on Twitter ... @evesunmelissa.

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