Friday’s Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South

Exploring Can Be Dangerous
by James Glaser
April 25, 2008

Exploring the South after living in the Northland for almost all of your life can be dangerous to your health. While Northern Minnesota does have some nasty bugs like the mosquito, deer and horse flies, and the blood sucking wood tick, they are nice enough to have their season to drive you nuts. Down here in Northern Florida bugs live 365 days of the year.

In the Northland we don't have any poisonous snakes, nor do you have to worry about an alligator taking a chunk out of you when you take a dip to cool off. Along with the poisonous snakes and gators, the Southerners have sharks going after those foolish enough to swim in the ocean,

However being the intrepid explorer that I am, none of these things have daunted me from my task of exploring what it is like to live in the Deep South of Florida. As you walk around down here you can slap at the mosquitoes, and you can watch out for the rattle snakes, and you sometimes have to remember it is better to wait for a shower than to cool off in that pool of water that no walking bird will go near, but you still have to breathe.

Down here, if the bugs don't get you and you can avoid the snakes and gators, and all you do is look at the pretty girls on the beach and avoid the shark infested waters of the ocean, you still have to contend with the pollen.

Sure there is plant life up North that must put out pollen, but up there the plants are polite enough to keep their pollen to a minimum. In Florida, the pollen can get so thick that your car can develop a yellow green tint to its paint color. Every tree, shrub, and flower that puts out pollen in the air down here is new pollen to me, and my body has no defense for it. They even have pollen counts in the newspaper.

Some pollen, like that of the Live Oak Tree, even can get to native Southerners, but it really does a number to us transplants from the North. I bought some organic lettuce from a local farmer the other day, and he said there were no chemicals on it at all, but I should double wash it to get the pollen off. Some days the pollen is so thick you have to run your car's wipers with fluid so you can see clearly.

For days on end the pollen makes my eye lids feel heavy, and I get a bit of a headache, and feel tired. Then when we get a hard rain, the rain washes all the pollen out of the air and you feel normal again. You can actually see the yellow ribbons of pollen residue where ever the water was flowing

You would think this pollen thing would be seasonal, but oh no, not so. Florida is tropical, and things are growing all year long. So, a new pollen hits the air every day. A tree fell on a section of fence where I am living in Tallahassee, and the owner of the property put up a new section and in less than three months vines had covered that repaired portion, and in six months you couldn't pick out the area repaired.

I met some people down at Railroad Square who had just bought a new home, and they told me that when they started to clear out the back yard they found a canoe and wrought iron furniture set under the growth they were removing. Down here, you leave your place for a year, and it is going to look like it was abandoned decades ago.

Along with all the bugs, alligators, and pollen, living down here can be dangerous because of all the people. In Northern Minnesota I was living out in the country, and I might come in contact with twenty people a week. Here in Tallahassee, I can see twenty new people every hour. Up North when some bug like the flu got to somebody, you knew that it would make the rounds, but if you stayed away from town for a couple of weeks, chances were pretty good it would pass you by.

Down here, you don't know what's out there, and just the sheer number of people makes it easy to catch what ever is going around. About a month ago I was At the VA Clinic here in Tallahassee, and the nurse was asking me if I had come down with the "bug" yet? I said no, and she started telling me that 75% of the staff and about half the patients have, so chances were good I would too. Well, I blew her off thinking that I never get sick and forgot about it.

Monday was shop clean-up for me. I was working away having a good time getting all my tools in their right places, cleaning off my work table and throwing away all the wood scraps that accumulate in any wood working shop. Right when I put the last piece of wood in the back of my truck it hit me all of a sudden. Perspiration started to bead on my forehead, I felt weak all over, and as they say down here, my stomach started feeling puny. I sat in the truck and started it up, turned on the AC. After a bit I asked Mark next door to lock up for me, and I headed home.

It is now Thursday night, and I am still sick but am on the mend. Wanda came home today from a trip to Alabama and made me some chicken noodle soup. It was probably good that she was out of town as I was pitiful for a couple of days, and when you are really feeling bad it is kind of nice to just suffer by yourself. I took lots of allergy medicines, lots of vitamin C, drank a lot of water, and slept as much as I could.

So, I am hoping that things get back to normal soon so I can get back to my exploration of the South. It is a comfort to know that Doctor Stanley had problems like this, too.

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