Sundog –noun 1. parhelion. 2. a small or incomplete rainbow.

Alder the Red

I don’t seem to be the only one noticing a very early spring around here. My springtime nemesis, the red alder tree, has begun a very early pollination cycle.

Every spring, usually around late March to early April, each mature Alder tree begins to ripen their hundreds of pollinating structures known as catkins. The catkins produce an amazing abundance of pollen each spring. Within a few weeks from now the tent tarps will have turned yellow from the pollen accumulating between rains.

Alder catkin on ground in front of tent feb 17, 2010
Unripe red alder catkin I found this morning on our main path.

Since becoming ill nearly nine full years ago, I began to develop an acute allergy to the Alder pollen and it has grown in intensity each subsequent year.

At this point it turns a lovely spring day into a hellish nightmare.

My eyes will become too swollen and light sensitive to see from but water and itch like mad, sneezes so loud they echo back from the trees in the small valley below our tent and go on for usually 7-10 in a row but have been known to last 30 minutes straight, sinuses that somehow never run out of snot, ears which become very tender and painful from the backed up sinus pressure, raw throat and chest due to the power of each sneeze, and heavy sleep deprivation because the severity of these symptoms prevent all but 4-6 hours of sleep at most each night instead of the 9-10 my body requires.

Over the years we have developed wartime strategies for getting through the 4-6 weeks of this Alder induced nightmare. Last year it was not as severe because of a few newly implemented weapons we found to add to my arsenal of allergy calming remedies. Though the difference was small, last year was finally a tolerable miserableness instead of something that pushed the boundaries of my sanity.

Xena battles Red Alder
Today I feel like Xena, armed and ready to battle Alder the Red who lurks above our tent.

My nemesis has started to wage an early war this year, several weeks earlier than most years, and it has caught me unawares. Luckily I am quick and have already begun my preparations for hunkering down and riding out the storm for the next month and a half or so. I think this will be another tolerable spring. I also have a bit of hope that somehow it will be easier even than last year.

This last week has seen some remarkable improvements in energy, endurance, and strength from the Paleo diet started seven weeks ago. I am hoping these improvements lead to me being better able to fight a winning battle in this ongoing war. The last four mornings have consistently seen me feeling physically better and generally even more upbeat than normal. Despite the allergies that pounced on me when I woke this morning, right now I feel surprisingly good!

I shall focus my mind on the garden I will begin to plant as soon as the pollen levels drop enough to allow me outside. Even though our tent windows are open (but have screens down), it does provide a small buffer from the raw windblown pollen lurking to strike the moment I leave for water, facilities or any other reason.

My posts will likely be more infrequent and hopefully being doped up on antihistamines and sleep deprivation will not adversely affect what I do write to more than a somewhat humorous extent. Don’t blame me if my jokes are not funny, if you were as sleep deprived as I am soon to become I am confidant you would find me funny too!


7 responses

  1. Snez

    You poor wee mites!
    Most of my immediate family suffer from allergies. I can’t imagine how bad the constant mucus, sneezing and rawness associated with alder pollen can get but you paint a very good picture of it.
    I’m hoping it won’t be too bad for you this year as well. 🙂

    February 19, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    • Thanks Snez! I’m glad you stopped by and posted a comment. Has been pretty empty here with this topic – I guess allergies are only interesting if you suffer from them too. lol

      hugs, Lisa 🙂

      February 20, 2010 at 11:38 am

  2. GaiaGal

    So sorry to hear about the tent/allergy situation…how awful for you both 😦 My husband and I just finally made our way out of being homeless and living in a tent …we were part of Tent City 3. I totally get the allergy thing…mine have been non stop since moving here (from AZ, where my sinuses were much happier due to the dry weather and low pollen count) and I am miserable and am sick and tired of breathing almost exclusively out of my mouth. Uggghhh. I had a good laugh from the whole “never ending snot” comment…I can’t belive a human body is capable of producing so much mucous! I hope things get better for you both….I have Fibromyalgia (which was originally diagnosed as CFS) and multiple other health issues. MCS sounds simply horrid and I have heard quite a few painful stories from others that suffer from it. I wish there was something I could do to help you guys out…in the meantime you will be in my prayers.

    Blessings )O(

    February 20, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    • Hello GaiaGal and nice to meet you. 🙂

      Thank you for the thoughtful reply, I’m happy that you posted here. 🙂

      Congratulations on you two making into a home, that is fantastic! 😀

      I hope this allergy season passes quickly this year for both of us!

      Best of luck to you and hugs,
      Lisa 🙂

      February 23, 2010 at 10:51 am

  3. I have horrible allergies, too, and in S.E. Florida something is always pollinating. The pine tree pollination is my very worst. Can’t take the usual allergy meds, so have a cloth mask layered with two charcoal filters inside. This year I bought some googles, too. I realize I look like an idiot, but it helps. The googles at least look like polarized sunglasses if I wear a visor or hat, covering the band around my head.

    March 7, 2010 at 11:10 am

  4. I too am wearing a mask at this point. Ends up being round the clock this time of year. A bit hard to sleep in but worth the trouble because without it I wouldn’t be able to sleep at all!

    Goggles are a good ideal, I know my eyes can set off my allergies even if my nose is doing fine before.

    Nice to hear from you today Pris. 🙂

    Did you make the mask on your own or did you find someplace to buy it? I have one homemade mask and then two which we purchased and are easier to wash frequently.

    Take care! Lisa 🙂

    March 7, 2010 at 12:58 pm

  5. I got my mask on a site called ICANBREATHE . They tell you to change filters daily or so which would cost a fortune. I don’t do that and they work just fine. I can’t use paper masks since I’m allergic to paper and get a rash everywhere the paper mask hits. Groan to allergies!

    March 7, 2010 at 1:52 pm

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