It’s Not A Cold, It’s Texas Cedar Fever
Over the last two weeks or so, there has been a major influx of web searches by people curious if they were getting sick or experiencing unseasonal allergies... As it turns out, odds are even if you don't suffer from allergies, it's still allergies.
Texas Cedar Fever is the quasi-incorrect vernacular the world has accepted to explain the mass spawning of juniper trees across the Southwest. Granted, the ashe juniper is also commonly referred to as the mountain cedar, so it's six of one, half dozen of the other.
While these trees do their thing every year as expected, the weather stacks up just right in some individual years to set off what is lovingly referred to as the "pollen explosion" or "super-spawn" where this specific tree pollen hits the atmosphere so thick, it quite literally looks like the haze of humidity or a dust storm... but why is it hitting around the end-of-year holidays?
If I haven't shared this before, I suffer from Fall allergies, sort of. Ragweed is my kryptonite and it generally will kick my butt for most of September and October before relenting. It's not so much that I'm allergic to the pollen itself, I've been tested and have an average nearly mild reaction to it... but I have a Hay Fever reaction to the overwhelming amount of pollen that is usually in the air.
It's the same reaction I get when I visit the cotton gin during peak season, when all the dust is flying around, or after grinding metal and sanding wood in the shop without my mask on. I have an allergic reaction to simple irritation.
As Christmas and New Year's 2021 came and went with extreme winds and some crazy 80-100 degree temperatures, the mystery cold that everyone seemed to catch has turned out to be simple, unseasonal allergies. Well, unseasonal for Southwest Oklahoma, it's prime time for the Hill Country in Texas.
Normally by now, the winds have been out of the North for six weeks or so in our neck of the woods, so we normally get a pass on this cloud of misery. That's just not the case this year. It's everywhere and the worst place to be is any place between Abilene, TX and Oklahoma City, OK... AKA - Lawton-Fort Sill.
Worse yet, it's not going to get any better immediately. The allergy forecast for Fort Sill estimates the pollen count and general allergic misery is going to get worse for the next few days, and even then it might not get any better.
While some people assume the rain helps, it doesn't. At least that's my experience with it. It may temporarily knock the pollen out of the air, but as soon as those winds start whipping again, it's back as if it never left.
What we need the most is for the weather to finally change and start coming out of the North. We need that winter weather of cool and cold days with mild and variable Northern winds to blow all that pollen back to Texas since those trees are considered as "Texan" as a bean-less chili.
If you're really having a hard time with the runny or stopped-up nose and itchy, watery eyes, take a play out of my book. I hibernate. I've spent years sealing my home to the point air doesn't move through the windows, doors, baseboards, etc... so when the allergy season starts, I only spend enough time outside to walk from my door to the car and from the car to the door.
Is it an oppressive way to deal with allergies? Meh... I'm an introvert so I would live every day like that if I could, but it's only temporary to the outgoing people for the sake of remaining sane during a difficult time.
If you do have to spend time outdoors in all this pollinated nature, I'll wear a mask too. Been doing it since before it was in vogue. It's an RZ M2 allergen mask built for the task. You're more than welcome to purchase your own, but you can get by in a pinch with your regular homemade mask too, with a little change.
Just like air filters in vehicles, a little oil goes a long way. Smear a super-light amount of vaseline or cooking oil on your regular cotton mask to seriously cut down on the amount of pollen it would ordinarily let through. If you're already stopped up and want to pull double-duty, smear it down with Vicks salve or whatever mentholated smear you have in the home. It looks stupid, but looking stupid is a small price to pay to feel good.