Alder the Red

I dont seem to be the only one noticing a very early spring around here. My springtime nemesis, the red alder tree, has begun a very early pollination cycle.

Every spring, usually around late March to early April, each mature Alder tree begins to ripen their hundreds of pollinating structures known as catkins. The catkins produce an amazing abundance of pollen each spring. Within a few weeks from now the tent tarps will have turned yellow from the pollen accumulating between rains.

<img src="" alt="Alder catkin on ground in front of tent feb 17, 2010" />
<strong>Unripe red alder catkin I found this morning on our main path.</strong>

Since becoming ill nearly nine full years ago, I began to develop an acute allergy to the Alder pollen and it has grown in intensity each subsequent year.

At this point it turns a lovely spring day into a hellish nightmare.

My eyes will become too swollen and light sensitive to see from but water and itch like mad, sneezes so loud they echo back from the trees in the small valley below our tent and go on for usually 7-10 in a row but have been known to last 30 minutes straight, sinuses that somehow never run out of snot, ears which become very tender and painful from the backed up sinus pressure, raw throat and chest due to the power of each sneeze, and heavy sleep deprivation because the severity of these symptoms prevent all but 4-6 hours of sleep at most each night instead of the 9-10 my body requires.

Over the years we have developed wartime strategies for getting through the 4-6 weeks of this Alder induced nightmare. Last year it was not as severe because of a few newly implemented weapons we found to add to my arsenal of allergy calming remedies. Though the difference was small, last year was finally a tolerable miserableness instead of something that pushed the boundaries of my sanity.

<img src="" alt="Xena battles Red Alder" />
<strong>Today I feel like Xena, armed and ready to battle Alder the Red who lurks above our tent.</strong>

My nemesis has started to wage an early war this year, several weeks earlier than most years, and it has caught me unawares. Luckily I am quick and have already begun my preparations for hunkering down and riding out the storm for the next month and a half or so. I think this will be another tolerable spring. I also have a bit of hope that somehow it will be easier even than last year.

This last week has seen some remarkable improvements in energy, endurance, and strength from the Paleo diet started seven weeks ago. I am hoping these improvements lead to me being better able to fight a winning battle in this ongoing war. The last four mornings have consistently seen me feeling physically better and generally even more upbeat than normal. Despite the allergies that pounced on me when I woke this morning, right now I feel surprisingly <em>good!</em>

I shall focus my mind on the garden I will begin to plant as soon as the pollen levels drop enough to allow me outside. Even though our tent windows are open (but have screens down), it does provide a small buffer from the raw windblown pollen lurking to strike the moment I leave for water, facilities or any other reason.

My posts will likely be more infrequent and hopefully being doped up on antihistamines and sleep deprivation will not adversely affect what I do write to more than a somewhat humorous extent. Dont blame me if my jokes are not funny, if you were as sleep deprived as I am soon to become I am confidant you would find me funny too!


I so sympathize with your allergic situation! I used to pooh-pooh allergies until I got a bad case of them a couple of years ago. I well remember driving to town to DJ a radio show with one eye slitted open (pre-CFS). And my head felt like an overripe watermelon, and just about as good at thinking. I did the show by playing very long cuts and lying on the floor of the broadcast studio with cotton wool over my eyes, soaked in Dolisos homeopathic allergy solution, Northwest mix. (They have a No. California mix too, but this one worked best for me). There's also a Northwest mold remedy, in case this sounds useful. if you want to take a look at the Dolisos offerings; gets you a listing of common homeopathic allergy remedies.

By the way, I don't sell Dolisos! It's just that I tried a lot of allergy remedies that year, and this was one of the few things that helped, internally and externally.
Lisa, cherry trees are starting to bloom here in Vancouver- what an early spring it is for us. I guess it's good for you since you 're not freezing out there. Good luck with the pollen- I hope you don't have it too bad this year.
Hi Sunday and Kati! :)

Thank you very much for the replies. Its always really nice to know someone has read my stories. :)

Sunday, another good thing for allergies is massive doses of Vitamin C. I tend to jump from 4 grams a day up to as much as 18 g a day. You'll know if you have to much. Interestingly though, when your body can make use of it and needs it, it can get a high tolerance in a matter of hours. I also wear a face mask most of the spring, cumbersome but extremely helpful.

Kati, I love seeing the cherry trees blossom! Around here in our neck of the woods its mostly the dogwoods that will bloom in a few months, but the huckleberries will make up for the lack of flowering trees. I love it when the huckleberry bushes bloom, their nectar smells incredibly good and is a very nice scent on the early morning breeze. :)

Thanks again for posting! Have a warm day. :D

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