As I was sitting here thinking about what to write this week, my gaze strayed out the window to the branches of the pine tree outside. Something caught my eye right away; it was the pollen bearing stamens that are visible only in the early spring. Around here we sometimes call them pine worms, because once they have completed their job of spewing pollen all over our cars and making people sneeze and cough, they fall to the ground and look like, well - worms.
Yes, this is the time of year when the Southland turns a greenish yellow and the crisp clear skies of winter begin their transition to the hazy crazy days of summer. A lot of people blame the pine trees for their spring allergies but I have it on authority that the pine pollen is too big to really cause the problem. The culprit it seems is the oak tree with its much smaller pollen grains. I can see it now; the mighty oak, chuckling silently as it spreads its pollen and the pine trees take all the blame. I think that the experts are right. When I was growing up in Florida, the ratio of pine to oak trees was much higher than they are in South Carolina where I live now. I never had any spring allergies there but I have tons of them here.
Despite being washed last week, my silver Jeep definitely had a pollen tint to it. The driveway and walkway in the front yard are yellow instead of the standard concrete color. The pollen is covering everything and it is still early yet. We have four to six weeks of this coming up. Hopefully we will have some nice spring rains to wash it away from time to time.
As if to offset the beginning of pollen season, the early bloomers have arrived. For at least one of them, the mild winter confused its timing. The Tulip Tree in the back yard normally blooms in February but this year it started in December and has been blooming in fits and starts all winter long. The Dogwoods and Bradford Pear trees are starting to show their colors. Just the past couple of days, the Azaleas have started budding, at least on the sunny sides of the houses. They will be with us all spring and into the early summer.
At least where I live today, we don’t have that other springtime phenomenon that we had in Florida; the love bugs. Those pesky bugs would mate in swarms over any warm open space every spring. You would see them in clearings in the woods, in meadows and especially swarming above the highways. And that was the problem, the front ends of our cars would become caked with the remains of love bugs as we smashed through them driving along the highways and byways. Once they dried on the hood, they were almost impossible to remove. Thanks to the fertile mind of some entrepreneurs, you could tell the cars from northern Florida, they were outfitted with “love bug shields” made from flexible screening that was stretched across the grills of the cars of native Floridians.
So, after a mild winter, spring is here at last. The kids are playing outside again, picnics and trips to the lake and beach are being planned. Heavy coats and sweaters are being hung up and shorts, t-shirts and tank tops are back out. Flowers are not the only thing blooming this season. Oh MY!