It’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.