By Marty Russell
We all live in a yellow histamine.
Actually that’s not exactly true but more on that later. It appears spring has finally arrived here in north Mississippi. I saw my first hummingbird of the year this week. It was yellow, sneezing and begging me to fill its feeder with liquid Benadryl. The trees have finally begun to leaf out, especially the dogwoods which are producing their first blooms, all of them yellow despite them all being, if memory serves, of the white variety.
Ah, spring! Ahchoo!
Used to be we welcomed spring with the first flowers, the return of color to the lawns and trees and the buzzing of the first bees as they got to work. Nowadays it seems we welcome spring with a trip to the allergy counter at the local drug store, the first report of a case of West Nile virus in a human which happened this week in the state and the first removal of a tick which I had to do this weekend after spending a night out at the telescope.
Blame it on global warming or a sinister conspiracy by the Obama administration but it seems spring has arrived this year with a vengeance, especially here in the South. The Asthma and Allergies Foundation recently released its annual report of the worst cities for allergy sufferers in the country and Jackson, Miss., was ranked No. 1.
I’ve always been allergic to Jackson in the spring but I’m not sure if it’s because of pollen or politicians since that’s when the Legislature meets there.
And we here in north Mississippi aren’t immune by distance since the No. 2 and No. 3 worst allergy cities in the country were Knoxville and Chattanooga with Memphis coming in at No. 8. Seems we’re surrounded.
In the past week, of course, we couldn’t help but notice that the pine trees have gotten into the act, mostly because we had to turn the wipers on the see to drive. Monday while I was outside there were literally yellow clouds of pine pollen blowing in the wind as if Big Bird had suddenly been vaporized.
But experts say we shouldn’t blame the pine pollen for our sneezing, coughing, watery eyes and financial conditions. While it’s more abundant and easier to see than other types of pollen, it’s a really lousy histamine. Histamines are proteins in pollen that usually look like World War II anti-submarine mines that penetrate your nasal tissues setting off an immune reaction that causes your blood vessels to dilate and irritate.
But pine pollen is coated with a waxy substance that makes it more difficult to penetrate the lining of your nose and mouth so it doesn’t really cause an allergic reaction. The experts say it’s more likely the oak, pecan, cedar, grass and other pollens that appear at the same time as pine pollen that cause us to suffer and not yellow fever.
MARTY RUSSELL writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.