Achoo To You Too

April showers bring May flowers. May flowers make pollen. Pollen makes for a mess, especially if it hits the nose before the mask goes back on the face. Oops. It is pollen season, something that isn’t as clearly defined as in other areas; but then, showers and flowers aren’t limited to only one season, either. More color throughout the year! More opportunities to sneeze, too.

Whidbey Island is a rural county. Ignoring hay fever can mean ignoring hay. That’s hard to do as the air is filled with the stuff that seeds are made of. Ignoring crops is easy in the city, but for a lot of the island Nature produces trees (which are enormous and hence able to produce clouds that coat cars in yellow), grass (something natural for prairies to provide), and various fragrances from the places along those two green shorelines of trees and grasses. Add in the fact that we pesky humans showed up to plant hay, crops, gardens, and lawns; a collection that can be pretty or at least pretty useful. And then peskier humans introduced plants like Scotch Broom and blackberry bushes. Let the sneezing begin!

In other parts of the world, even other parts of the state, pollen arrives in short, intense onslaughts. Nothing in winter, a spring to summer surge, then a switch to the end of summer and the beginning of winter. Repeat. Predictable. Reliable. Treatable.

Welcome to the Puget Sound where it looks like someone forgot to organize the plants. Some pollens show up in January, which begins a rolling parade of different allergens of various lengths and strengths through September. There’s more of a reason and season to sneeze, but it is harder to know what’s making people reach for their handkerchiefs this week.

There is good news. Some plants like nettles might alleviate the symptoms (but either buy them or learn how to harvest them because their common name is stinging nettles.)

The better news is that the pollen is necessary for those crops and flowers that we look forward to, just like the showers are only a bit of a bother consider they are necessary for the rest of Nature, as well as us. Of course, we’re part of Nature, so we get a double benefit.

Also be glad that the island’s lands are surrounded by effectively fields of water that keep their pollens under the waves.

Now, about those masks that are distributed so widely. Maybe they’re worth hanging onto.

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