Overnight the world was covered with golden dust--at least the world of Aberdeen, NC and the area know as the Sandhills which is locally known for sandy loam populated by pine forests, multiplicity of golf courses, and towns with "pine" in their names-Southern Pines, Pinehurst, etc.
Our Toyota Highlander Hybrid seemed to have been repainted yellow dust and sticky pine sap---yuck!
When we opened the morning papers, headlines revealed the source of the paint job: the annual pine pollen invasion which is reported to be the worst in seven years according to allergy sufferers, including this horse's nose! To further antagonize respiratory compromised persons, the pollen season entered in raging hurricane force, early.
With allergies, asthma and COPD on my palette of maladies, I anticipated trauma before making this trip. My previous trips to the Carolinas resulted in some kind of respiratory reaction with which to contend on the return trip home.
My primary physician supplied me prescriptions for antibiotics, steroids and cough syrup-just-in-case scenario. Allergy inoculations were up-to-date. Extra inhalers were packed. I also had routine prescription meds. My ammunition for front line defense was ready for airborne invasion.
My husband also suffers from some allergies and COPD. He had similar ammunition.
Both of us had supplies of Benadryl, the popular OTC allergy remedy, or its generic version, Diphenhydramine HCl and also an OTC cough syrup, Delsym. We use these two meds as the first line of defense despite its drowsiness side effect.
When we arose to the phenomenon of golden dust, we did not flinch. The duration of our stay we had mild reactions and no illness initiating the need for stronger medicines.I had coughing spells calling for the stronger cough syrup but most of the 2 oz. bottle returned home.
According to newspapers there were many unfortunate sufferers with symptoms of itchy swollen eyelids, weeping eyes, runny nose, nasal discomfort, itchy ears and coughing, etc.
Besides the dust, which reminds me of the green oak pollination in Arkansas, the other phenomenon was the visible airborne pollution. US Hwy. 1 is a main thoroughfare of Aberdeen and Southern Pines. It is a long, straight segment in one area. Looking down the road, it appeared we had fog or smog in Aberdeen and Southern Pines, only instead of grey fog it was yellow smog.
I've seen fog, smog, heavy rainfall, white-out snowstorms, sandstorms, etc. but never pollen so thick it was atmospherically visible. All the sneezing probably is a road hazard, if they sneeze as hard and repetitiously as I do.
The horizon was tinted the same color. It was downright eerie. In Arkansas we have oak pollen covering everything yellow-green, but to my knowledge the pollen does not tint the atmosphere and horizon--at least not the 30 years I've lived here.
There were pollen alerts, advising persons with compromised respiratory systems to stay indoors. I heeded the advice for the most part. Husband was outside more than I; he had mild reactions. It is the first time I remember, we started home without allergy or cold symptoms making the long drive more miserable and tirng.
Pine pollen grains are larger in comparison to other pollen. Some experts say it is too large to cause most reactions. Current sufferers vehemently disagree.
However, experts say the golden smog this year is not just one pollen but the result of extreme weather preceding the normal pollen season causing early pollination of pine along with many other spring plants, resulting in an early, abnormally heavy pollination complexity.
What was most amazing is the azaleas burst forth in all their glory during our second week in NC. Usually our allergies decide we should be miserable to the nth degree when we're in the Carolinas during azalea season. This year we barely knew they were blooming.
Ironically, Sunday, after returning home, whatever is in the air in Arkansas has me wheezing audibly. I tanked up on inhalers, carried one inhaler to church along with cough syrup. I am grateful my allerg8es abated until I returned home.
Luckie is having some allergies, too. What a threesome this household is!
Pine Pollen Smog: 1,2,3
Husband, myself and azaleas - Easter Sunday
[Will be in Springfield MO most of week seeing endocrinologist.]