Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Revenge of the Pines

Pine flowersIt’s that time of year again.

Planet Georgia, being one of the original 13 colonies, has a long history of environmental abuse. The old-growth forests of Southern Pine or hardwood are long gone, with the exception of some truly impressive hemlocks I’ve seen along the Appalachian Trail.

Development, especially in the Atlanta area, involves mowing down every single tree as a first step. Sometimes they’ll plant replacements. Sometimes. Usually ornamentals, lashed down with guy wires and surrounded by pavement to prevent them from escaping.

Somewhere around 1985, we hit a tipping point of sorts — and the pines started to fight back. Atlanta has never been The Place To Be for allergy sufferers during the spring, and things have only gotten worse since then. The official pollen count can get crazy this time of year. A pollen count over 120 is “extremely high” — and during dry spells it regularly soars above 1000, 3000, or even 5000. I think it actually hit 10000 once or twice. I think they need to add some ratings to the scale: “Ridiculous” up to 1000; “Judas Priest!” up to 3000, and so forth.

Pine trees are, as a matter of vengeance, a major contributor to the pollen count. On windy days, I’ve seen yellow clouds of pollen flying from the trees (you can grab a limb and shake to get the same effect). It doesn’t matter what color your car is — around here, in springtime, it’s yellow. Don’t bother washing it off; you’ll just have to do it again tomorrow. And every spring, they’re standing along the roadside, giving us all the finger.

I’m not allergic, thank God, but I still feel it when the pollen count gets above 5000 or so. Fortunately, rainy days like today rinse out the pollen and bring relief to the allergic.

5 comments:

  1. Fortunately allergy time hasn't hit here yet in New York. I know that yellow tinge well. It will be everywhere.

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  2. Yuck. I thought the whirlly-gig seeds were messy!

    (waving at boran2, too!)

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  3. Hey guys!

    Boran, I've heard it gets pretty bad in other places… but I think our planet here has the dubious honor of having some of the worst pollen around. This March, though, has been wetter than in the last so-many years, so the pollen hasn't gotten over 3000 more than once or twice. But we have a dry week coming up, so…

    KB, we used to call those "helicopters." Grab a handful & toss 'em in the air, watch them spin down. Are those maple or elm? I can't remember.

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  4. Hey FAR, KB and Boran! I know all about the Atlanta pollen (I used to go there regularly when I was still travelling a lot for work) ... funny thing is it didn't affect me that much, probably because I've lost my "southern" allergies since I moved back to the midwest in 1994. But FL has some pollen counts to be reckoned with as well, and I don't miss that one bit!

    Flipping you off eh? hehe ... that and the ubiquitous pine needle mulch (that's a nice term, I think?) you see everywhere in Planet Georgia. Do you have that nasty reddish clay soil too? I often despaired that I probably couldn't get anything to grow in that stuff. Nice place to visit, etc.

    I'm with KB on the Maple Spinners (aka helicopters) and just loathe the things! We have two maples in the yard and it gets crazy with them all coming down at once. Last year we didn't have many because of that nasty cold snap in March-April ... the maples had budded out but they got zapped. When they're really bad here, I take the shop vac outside and just vacuum them up and send them to the city compost. Still, even with that, we're always pulling seedlings everywhere!

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  5. Hey IVG, they call the mulch "pine straw" around here. Some places actually bale it up & sell it!

    You're always pulling up maple sprouts, I'm always pulling up pine sprouts. Never ends, does it? ;-)

    ReplyDelete

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