In Spring, Nashville's atmosphere is 21% oxygen and 79% pollen.
For Nashville lies in a basin. When it rains 15 inches the city fills up and floods. When every bush, tree, and blade of grass blooms at the same time, it fills up with allergens. "Got Pollen?" reads the sign at the White Bridge Road Car Wash.
Bad air means those of us who like to wander up park roads looking for early warblers will be spending our evenings wheezing and our nights sleepless. We may even miss a day of work. But we are not the only ones-
Soccer players, bikers, runners, anyone who inhales will be miserable when the pollen count is over 400.
How unfair that Nature does this in spring, when one can still wander about all day outdoors and not have to hide inside from the soupy suffocation of Nashville's summers. I never thought I would live in a place where one longed for the coming of frost because July and August are so burdensome.
And August brings ragweed!
When I was a child in Connecticut, I remember my mother telling me that towns were sending out the Boy Scouts to pull up Goldenrod. People thought it caused hay fever. Now we know that it is innocent.
And the other evening, as I walked at the park at dusk I listened in vain for the songs of migrant birds. I did not even hear a cardinal call.
The only sound I heard was my own sneezing.
The Barn Swallows came back yesterday. I knew they were at Radnor Lake, for Professor Fekel,a reliable reporter on Surfbirds.com had reported seeing one.
One moment I went in to get a cup of coffee from a swallow-less day. Five minutes later they were swooping and chittering over the parking sheds. There was a strong south wind , and I am certain it blew them in.