By Marty Russell
An epidemic of Yellow Fever is once again spreading across the South causing misery and suffering for just about everyone except the owners of car washes. OK, so they’re probably suffering too but they’re doing it all the way to the bank.
The primary transmitter of this disease, of course, is the common pine tree, which each year at this time goes into a hormonal fit that would make most teenagers seem celibate by comparison. According to Dr. Arboris Loblolly, author of the definitive “Mating Habits of the North American Pine Tree,” (soon to be a major motion picture starring Al Gore), each year about this time as the female pine tree sheds its winter coat in favor of bikinis and short shorts, the male pine trees begin producing prodigious amounts of pollen, that yellow dust currently coating just about everything.
I went to work Monday wearing a white shirt and came home looking like that Yella Fella from the TV lumber commercials. I didn’t have a 10-gallon hat on my head but I felt like I had 10 gallons of something in my head.
Actually pine trees are hermaphrodites (don’t tell the Republicans or they’ll try and ban them). Each tree produces both male and female cones with the male cones producing the offensive pollen to impregnate the female cones which then fall off the tree, open up a year later with seeds attached to little whirly-gig wings and fly away to cause more trouble elsewhere. Make up your own female joke about that.
In the meantime, it’s the rest of the world that has to suffer as a result of the pining pines’ love life although it’s primarily just the messy yellow coating it leaves on everything. Even though, if you look at pine pollen under a microscope it actually looks like a poisonous pufferfish with spikes extending all around, and it’s not something you’d deliberately want to stick up your nose (like a pine 2X4) scientists (what do they know?) say it’s actually oak tree pollen that causes the majority of allergies this time of the year.
Oak tree pollen is more easily absorbed into the nasal passages than pine pollen causing histamines, the body’s equivalent of Seal Team Six, to spring into action and attempt to oust the offenders by blowing them away, literally, with a sneeze, a cough or tears from itchy, watery eyes. The result? Well, war is hell, especially when it’s going on in your nose.
So don’t blame the poor pine tree for your misery. Experts say pine pollen is actually an excellent natural source of testosterone that has been used for centuries throughout Asia and can be harvested by placing bags over the male cones and shaking the pollen out. But, again, don’t tell the Republicans.
Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 222 Farley Hall, University MS 38677 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.