A Longing For Pine Pollen

Tom Poland

By Tom Poland

Cold weather? Stay up North. My dash says it’s 48 degrees as I drive by a swamp, yet singing frogs drown out my heater fan. They must be pleading for warm weather to arrive. Well, let me tell you, warm weather can’t get here fast enough. Just the other night, I told a lady I couldn’t wait to see daffodils and pine pollen. Yes, pine pollen. The color of spring is gold. Bring on daffodils and bring on yellow dust storms, sure signs winter is loosening its grip on the land.

Now generally I detest the yellow stuff but I detest the cold even more. So let the pollen blow o’er us like fine cornmeal. Truth be told, pine pollen is more like flour. In fact, “pollen” is Latin for “flour,” and patientia is Latin for patience. Here it is February and late March’s peak pollen seems a million years away. Patient I’m not. Release millions of pounds of yellow flour now so a party can take place among the branches. Sooner than later, I hope, we’ll find ourselves in the midst of carousing woodlands. Trees will be mating. As the party fades a bit, rain flushes spent pollen into the streets and it swirls about in lemon-colored puddles. Lovely.

I can’t wait to spray off my deck. I can’t wait to see the yellow stuff tracked across my hardwood floors. Can’t wait to yellow arcs streak across my windshield. As abundant and free as it is, you’d think some folks would have found ways to make money off pine pollen. Well, they have. According to some so-called health food distributors, pine pollen has more than 200 fully bioactive nutrients the body needs. Something in pine pollen, they say, improves the body’s metabolism. Maybe so. (It elevates moods. Just thinking about swirling clouds of yellow lifts my spirits.) 

Research claims pine pollen fights fatigue, improves memory, and relieves headaches. It decreases cholesterol too (the bad kind I suppose). Moreover, pine pollen powder helps prevent aging. Can it make your white hair brown, Crystal Gale?

Of course, at the end of a mild winter it’s fashionable to complain about pine pollen. As it rains down we blame it for our sneezes, runny noses, and watery eyes. Take heart. Its clinging, coating presence on everything happens for a simple reason: it’s too heavy to hang in the air. It’s the super-fine pollen from other trees and plants that mostly cause allergies. As for me? I’d rather sneeze than freeze. And winter? There’s not enough money in the world to get me to live up North. That’s where cold weather belongs.

Things sure do change. When I was a boy the cold didn’t bother me and I have no memories that pollen even existed. Oblivious I was. The only thing I like about winter today is the slight chance that snow will bring us a winter wonderland sublime but that seldom happens. Instead of snow we get bowlegged, potbellied snowbirds in plaid shorts and black knee socks assaulting our ears. Overheard in Publix on a 36-degree day. “Dis winter is nuttin. Anyways, I miss da snows up North.” Well guess what? I-77 and I-95 still run both ways. Hop on ’em.

This cold weather has me longing for pine pollen. I’m ready to see my shoes turn yellow when I walk into the yard. I’m ready to see our Southern version of blizzards. I’m ready to see tracks on my deck laid down by that masked bandit of the night, Mr. Raccoon. I’m ready to see blue cars turn green. And most of all, I’m ready to see Old Man Winter get out of Dodge. We’ve had sustained cold for a long time now. Is this Detroit? Is this Hoboken? Is this Boston? (nasal “Baaaah-stun”) I’m tired of it. I’m ready to see winds blow sulfur-colored clouds across the landscape like some scene from an alien planet.

We all know Yankees like to cut the trees around their houses but they can’t cut ’em all. Up North, when they get pine pollen what’s the result? Yellow snow? Hmmm … not good. Maybe their pollen season comes much later, after ice fishing season … yeah, cut those holes through four-foot-thick ice, catch a walleye, and chew on a brat.

Lewis was right. Nail my feet to the ground. I’m never going up North, up where folks fish through holes in the ice. Give me pine pollen instead and give it to me now.

Tom Poland is the author of twelve books and more than 1,000 magazine features. A Southern writer, his work has appeared in magazines throughout the South. The University of South Carolina Press released his book, Georgialina, A Southland As We Knew It, in November 2015 and his and Robert Clark’s Reflections Of South Carolina, Vol. II in 2014. The History Press of Charleston published Classic Carolina Road Trips From Columbia in 2014. He writes a weekly column for newspapers in Georgia and South Carolina about the South, its people, traditions, lifestyle, and changing culture and speaks often to groups across South Carolina and Georgia, “Georgialina.”

Comments are closed.