I woke up today with the feeling that my sinuses had swollen to three times their normal size and were trying to push my brain out through my ears. I was aching all over; joints, muscles, head. Spring is here! I looked out my window and, sure enough, the fruitless mulberry tree is releasing pollen! Nothing screws me up more than fruitless mulberry tree pollen.
This tree grows bunches of tiny green blossoms on stems an inch or more long. It looks as though the tree is covered in small green caterpillars. Every one of those blossoms is covered in pollen. You can blow directly on one of them, and nothing will happen. A gust of wind will not cause the pollen to release. But every once in a while, a small cloud will explode from one or another of the stems. All the blossoms on a particular stem apparently release their pollen at once. (Talk about mutual climax!) If the breeze is exactly right, the cloud will look just like a smoke ring. In fact, when back lit by the afternoon sun, the clouds always look like puffs of cigarette smoke. The puffs drift a few feet, thinning and spreading, then seem to vanish. It gives the tree an odd 1930's or 1940's Hollywood quality. I always think of Veronica Lake or William Powell. Then my nose runs.
Ah, spring. And this is my favorite season! I can't complain too much, though. The tree is only exacting partial payment for the splendid shade with which its leaves will provide me on the long, hot days of summer. Partial payment because in the late fall, I have to go out and rake those leaves, which cling to the tree until well after the cold and rainy season begins. Since that period of labor lasts longer than the few days of aches and sneezes brought on by the pollen, I consider it the greater part of the payment. Brrr. Thick, fleshy mulberry leaves, sodden from the rains, smelling of decay, needing to be dragged into piles and hauled off to the dump because they never dry out enough to be burned. I hate the thought of it.
So I won't think of it anymore. I'll just blow my nose and endure the aches in anticipation of the summer shade, when the sunlight sparkles in the spray from lawn sprinklers and the hummingbirds hover nearby, singing of long afternoon daydreams.