Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan column: Appalling pollen

Someone has taken a salt shaker of pollen and poured it into our eyes. Well, not really, but we have been getting regular dustings of the yellow sign of spring. Our cars certainly have been, and I had a most untimely emptying of my windshield wiper fluid this week. Even when a rain shower washed away the latest crop dusting, it soon returned. As I write this on Friday morning, rain is falling and there are little rivers of yellow ushering away the reason for sneezing. But I know the pollen is just waiting for its chance to re-blanket our outside world. And nature needs the pollen, so we need the pollen, too.

All these lovely flowers come with another side of nature. That’s life pretty much, right? Blooming trees abound, but so does pollen ready to dump a pile on surfaces like so much snow — or road salt for snow that doesn’t arrive — in the winter.

A few weeks ago during that just kidding arrival of spring, I had to clear both ice and pollen off my car one morning. Ice. And. Pollen. Only in North Carolina. Well, I guess other states might have the same situation, but we’re here so that’s what I’m talking about. All the years I lived in Virginia, I never knew what pollen could actually be. Just like I didn’t know what a biscuit could actually be, or pimento cheese could actually be, until I moved down here. I lived further South as a kid, at Fort Bragg and in Augusta, Georgia, but you don’t notice stuff like the weather and pollen as a kid much. I remember that Georgia was hot, and that it didn’t snow enough. At Fort Bragg, as long as I could climb the Magnolia tree in our front yard, the weather was irrelevant.

Pollen has a way of slowing things down a bit. People are a little more tired, more sneezy, more appreciative of falling rain than they’d be otherwise. Warmer weather ramps things up as we make plans to go outside. The arrival of pollen with such force tells us to slow down. It’s not screen door time yet, unless you want pollen inside your house. Sit on the porch if you want, but take some paper towels to the chairs first or your clothes will be yellow, too. It’s worth sweeping away that day’s pollen to enjoy the outdoors before our insufferable Southern summer heat arrives as soon as the pollen departs.

Through my pollen-edged windshield this past week I noticed that the azaleas are starting to bloom. The daffodils, which always show up first in North Carolina springs, have already gone away until 2018. The wisteria came and went. The Bradford pear trees bloomed, stunk up the joint, and have turned to green. Sure, pollen coats our roads and cars and sidewalks, but at least we’re treated to a rainbow of flowers around us, too.

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: 919-419-6563, @dawnbvaughan

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