Check Your Surfaces

Tedious Field Work

When I was studying pollen at the University of Tulsa (go Golden Hurricane!) one of my tasks was to estimate the amount of pollen produced in a mountain cedar forest. To do that, you must first know that mountain cedars are dioecious, meaning that there are male trees and female trees. Since the male flowers produce the pollen, you need to estimate how many male trees there are in a given area. Then you have to estimate the number of male flowers on an average tree (in this case, the flowers are called cones). Last, you have to estimate the number of pollen grains in a flower (cone). Once you’ve done all that, it’s simple multiplication:

Total Pollen In Area A = number of male trees x average number of cones per tree x average number of pollen grains per cone

So now imagine you are me and you’re counting cones on a healthy mountain cedar tree in the Texas Hill Country—you’re miles from town, your nose is running, and your eyes are itching. The latest tree you’ve chosen has about 3 million cones on it, and you’ve dramatically underestimated the amount of time it would take to count the cones.

Now imagine that you hear the unmistakable sounds of feral hogs. You are unarmed and you’re painfully aware that kneeling in the dirt staring at cones three inches from your face is a pretty vulnerable position to be in when surrounded by notoriously aggressive feral hogs. I don’t know what you would do, but I decided to count cones in my 1997 Pontiac Sunfire. I quickly cut the branches off the tree and threw them in the back seat of my car. I counted deep into the night, just me, my “The Cranberries” and “Irish Drinking Songs” tapes, dozens of branches, and billowing pollen.

Do You Have to Let it Linger?

So why am I telling you this? I’m telling you this because from that day on, every time I got in that car I had a mild allergic reaction. The car was coated in pollen! The fabric seats, the vents, the roof liner, everything. I did my best to vacuum and wipe down surfaces, but the thing was saturated!

So here’s how you apply my little story to your life: Think about the surfaces you or your child encounters throughout the day. Just because the pollen count isn’t high today, doesn’t mean that there is no risk for exposure. Just take a look at the picture below I almost sat in at a state baseball tourney (my team didn’t win). Just imagine what would have happened had I sat down, touched the seat, and then touched my nose! NoseRUN!

Pollen on seats

By the way, I sold the car.