“AAAAAAhhhh-chooo!” (That’s me, sneezing!)
My eyes water.
My nose runs.
Desperate thoughts drive me to find the quickest access to a Kleenex.
Yep, I’m the girl with wadded up tissues in her purse, the girl with skin that is raw and sore from from wiping her nose with toilet paper or a napkin in a pinch.
I have allergies.
My eyes begin to itch.
My throat begins to scratch.
Clumsy fingers scramble to unlock medication from it’s protective bubble and I wait eagerly for it to take effect as I gulp it down.
A whole chain of events is triggered with a simple inhale. Unseen particles of fragrance or pollen float around in the wind until they find their way into my nose. Then, I’m a goner.
Recently, I moved away. Remarkably, my allergies were gone. But now, they are back with a vengeance. Thus, I must sadly conclude that I’m allergic to home.
The landscape that I call home is loaded with plants who have adapted to survive. Unrelenting desert sun forces native plants to develop a toughness.
The most annoying are sand burrs, a long grass that looks innocent enough but secretly lodges nasty little spikes into soft spots in your skin. In an effort to avoid a carpet full of prickers, brought in on shoelaces and rubber soles, we choose to fight against the persistent plant and its painful thorn. Eradication from the surrounding area is our goal.
Dad starts with a flamethrower as his instrument of destruction, attempting to conquer the seed pod by a fiery death. After hours of work, contained to a small patch of land, he declares defeat. “The plants are too green,” he grumbles, “the seeds just fall on the ground and I’m wasting time and fuel.”
Mom advocates for weedkiller, the heavy duty kind that comes in a five-gallon jug from the feed store. As the sickly orange fluid pours into the plastic sprayer, the odor wafts up. It’s a cross between vinegar and cough syrup. Not pleasant. Strapping the plastic jug of poison to his back, Dad walks around the front of the house, carefully directing the nozzle to the dreaded plant. As the poison does its work, we discover that killing the plant just knocks the burrs to the ground. Next year, we will pay the price.
Shovels are our last hope. Hauling large garbage barrels to the edges of the back yard, we point the steel tip at our target, the shallow roots of the grass. My dad and I, with gloved-hands, walk slowly through the field, analyzing each weed and attacking our common adversary. With a light shake to remove the dirt from the roots, we toss the de-earthed plants into the black plastic of the bin. Pressing my arm down to compact the growing stack, the smell of cut plants and dirt and plastic merge and begin to tickle my nose. Two sacks later, we darkly joke that we could play an awful trick on a neighbor by leaving a bagful of seed heads in their grass.
By that time, I am a wreck. Those hours, spent in close relationship with the native weeds, did a number on my allergies. Between the hot sun, the allergies in full force and the stickers working their way into my socks, I am grumbling between sneezes, brought low by an unseen enemy.
I take off a glove, remove a thorn from my fingertip, and dig a Kleenex out of the pocket of my stained work jeans. At least the tissues smell of baby powder and momentary relief.