Have you ever been yellow? If not, then that probably means you own an enclosed garage.

It's that time of year again when everything outdoors, and even indoors if you happen to open your windows to enjoy the warm breezes as I did, is coated in a fine yellow dust. It's a natural phenomenon that occurs every spring and is a byproduct of (shhh, the Legislature might be listening) sex.

That's right, all that yellow stuff obscuring your windshield is the male portion of the reproductive cycle of plants. Every spring the male part of flowering plants releases a fine mist of particles, each no wider than a human hair, into the air to float around happily looking for a mate. Some succeed in alighting on a suitable female flower and a new plant is born while the bulk wind up being washed off into the gutter. It's very similar to what I remember about the human dating scene.

Pollen, which is the polite name for this fine dust saturating the air, causes two major problems for many of us this time of the year. First, it covers everything and I mean everything. Cars, grass, pets, clothes. They say green is the color associated with spring but around here it's yellow.

"Hey, I love that yellow tie you're wearing," somebody might say.

"It was blue when I left the house this morning," you might reply.

The other major problem, of course, is allergies. Unless you can figure out a way to avoid breathing for a couple of months out of the year, like some of my students, you're going to inhale some of this pollen stuff.

Now while most of us think the bulk of the yellow dust comes from pine trees, pine pollen is heavy and tends to fall straight down and doesn't scatter, according to the National Institutes of Health. The real problems are with weeds such as ragweed, which can produce a million grains of pollen from a single plant in a day.

Once you inhale some of these grains, according to medical research, an argument breaks out in your nose.

"Hey, you're not a female flower or, if you are, you're the ugliest female flower I've ever seen," the pollen notices as it looks around inside your nostril.

To which the nose replies, "Hey, you're not supposed to be in here! I'm going to kick you out!"

And a fight breaks out characterized by lots of sneezing, itching and teary eyes. This will continue until one of three things happens. Either the pollen is ejected from the nasal passages via a violent sneeze, Condoleeza Rice is called in to negotiate a truce or we get some rain to wash all this stuff away.

Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 227 Lester Hall, University MS 38677 or by e-mail at marusse1@olemiss.edu.

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