Don’t worry, this has nothing to do with the swine flu. It’s just that no one like me can stop and smell the roses — not without popping an antihistamine.
This is my favorite time of year, the green back on the trees, the comfortable rides with the windows down, the late evenings on the porch. But my nose also becomes an allergy AK47, with the rapid fire sneezing a form of extended sinus convulsion. The most I’ve ever counted in succession is 23. It was ridiculous.
So I go everywhere with one or two little allergy pills and a supply of tissues, no handkerchief. My father carries one. But I’ve always believed it to be one gross practice. Why hold on to such a thing? I’ve never spoken with anyone my age or younger who disagrees. There is clearly a generational divide on the handkerchief.
Of course, no current allergy troubles rival one week back in 1987. I took an elbow to the nose when I went up for a rebound during practice as a high school freshman. My beak broke in nine places. But like many injuries, the fix was much worse than the break. I had surgery and my nose was stuffed with gauze for a week. Doctors said I’d need more corrective surgery later. But that has not and will not happen. It’s been nearly 22 years, but I remember the week without that crucial airway too clearly to live it again.
Anyway, I do love the smells of spring, those that I can handle. The scent of fresh-cut grass is a universal goodness. Who cannot acknowledge the cleanness in it? It’s like that patch of land has had a bath and smells sweet and new. I’ve learned the pleasure of finishing that trim, of sitting on the porch and breathing it in. I was fortunate enough as a kid in Macon to get to play a lot of golf. And the smell of fresh-cut grass always takes me back to the early summer morning and getting out of my mother’s car to that sweet smell, with my biggest worries at the time a bad case of the yips or a snap hook off the tee. I was largely unaware of my good fortune. I had the youthful tunnel vision of birdies and bogies. And the sweet scent of cut grass take me back to more carefree days. A fresh-cut baseball field has the same effect.
For years, warm weather has also meant a trip to the beach. And the first and perhaps greatest pleasure of a beach trip to me is the first hint of ocean in the air. There is that blend of land and sea air that stretches a few miles inland. I love to come into a beach town just after a rain in the late afternoon, when the water of the pavement mixes with the ocean air.
I agree that smell is the most nostalgic of the senses. If you’ve ever walked into a school and smelled your old classroom, just as it was on a first day with a parent at your side, then you can understand how a smell can make you feel suddenly six again.
Hopefully, you’re not like me, but I know many are. The allergy commercials are testament to the fact that many of us seek relief from these seasonal ailments.
No one enjoys being the sneeze machine. And if you see me and want to tell me “God, bless you,” or “gesundheit” (kazoontight), you might as well hold your breath. You don’t want to waste 23 of those on one person.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.