Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sweet, Sweet Rain

It's raining today.  That may not mean much to some people, but here in Chattanooga in the Spring, it's a blessing from Heaven.  Not simply because we need the rain, but Spring in Chattanooga means pollen - tree pollen, specifically, by the boatload.

For the last week or so, everything has been coated with a fine chartreuse powder.  It's everywhere, like dust from the Icelandic volcano I refuse to try to spell or pronounce.  You can smell it when you breathe.  Your mouth gets gritty from it getting captured by your saliva as you inhale.  On the TV weather, a pollen count over 50 is defined as "high".  Spring in Chattanooga generates pollen counts over 1500 regularly, and we set a record the other week with one over 7000.  They said it was visible from space - a faint haze of pollen hovering over the entire Southeast.

I had only minor problems with allergies as a kid (mowing the lawn always stuffed my head up), but it wasn't until we moved down here that I appreciated what serious allergy sufferers go through.  Every Spring, for years, I would get what I thought was a low-level cold that would never go away.  Itchy eyes, sneezing, coughing, sniffling, stuffed up sinuses - I was miserable and didn't really know why.  Colds go away in a few days or a week; this stuff just hung on, making me feel lousy for a couple months without a break.

One day I made the connection - "This is allergies!" - and I started a steady diet of antihistamines every Spring.  Unfortunately, I seem to develop a tolerance to them after a while, and I can't take them for too long before they lose their effectiveness.  So it's been about two weeks on, a week off, every Spring for more than a decade.  The last few days have been "off", and I've been pretty miserable.

But today we had rain.  Not a lot, but it washed a lot of this junk out of the air and off the ground into the storm sewers.  There's little chartreuse sand bars all over where the running rivulets were overstuffed with pollen-laden silt.  We could use a good thunderstorm or two to really clear everything up.

And once pollen season ends, we get 4 or 5 months of blistering heat and high humidity.  The joys of Southern living.

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