Easter weekend was glorious and made us realise that Summer is nearly upon us. The mornings are brighter, the days are longer, the rain is warmer and we are counting the days until we can put the grotty lunchboxes in the bin and bury the uniforms in the bottom of the laundry basket. Why then oh why do I find myself longing for deepest darkest winter, for cold nights and warm fires, for frosty mornings and furry boots? I’ll tell you why. Because some of the children in my house have the misfortune to suffer from hayfever and the onset of the good weather is torture for them.
When the sun comes out and the layers come off it is only natural to rush outside and embrace the fresh air and sunshine for the ten minutes we might have it for. With whoops of joy the doors are flung open, the footballs, scooters, bikes and skates are removed from storage and cries of fun and delight fill the air. Within minutes however, cries of anguish fill the air as the first victim comes drooping back through the door again, eyes streaming, nose streaming and all fun cancelled. My children may play more than a few video games during the spring and summer months but they have to have fun somewhere. Mind you, in the midst of winter, they will never be found inside preferring instead to run off steam outside in the cold, where there is no danger of them sneezing and dripping and succumbing to the misery of their allergies.
Obviously there are lots and lots of different remedies available to sneeze-proof their lives and ease their symptoms. Every pocket, every handbag is filled with eye drops and nasal sprays and anti-histamines of various descriptions but most of them have had very little effect and plus I don’t like the idea of filling my kids with steroids and drugs until they rattle. So I’ve been examining alternative methods of keeping their symptoms at bay and trying to ensure they can enjoy the great outdoors as much as their friends. Diet is one of the first things. Apparently Vitamin C is particularly effective at reducing symptoms of hayfever. Yet another reason to stock up on broccoli and spinach, citrus fruits and colourful peppers. I’m sure they’ll be delighted at this piece of news. A low level of Vitamin D in the body has also been thought to make hayfever worse. This in itself is a bit of a complex issue. Most of our Vitamin D comes naturally from sunlight, but they can’t be outdoors too much in the precious sunlight or they start sneezing so it’s a bit of a vicious circle. The Vitamin D has to be sourced from diet instead, so along with all those green leafy vegetables they will now also be shovelling tons of oily fish and eggs down their necks. They are really going to love me.
I will have to nail their windows shut and change their sheets every few days. The vacuum cleaner will be constantly on and I will have to start refusing all the beautiful floral arrangements that arrive in the house on a daily basis. Not bouquets from admirers I hasten to add, but bunches of handpicked daisies and wild flowers presented to me from a child. Precious but unfortunately deadly.
Did you ever think that maybe the plant world just might be a little mad at humanity? Maybe it’s just getting revenge on us for chopping down trees and causing climate change and global warming. I guess because plants can’t move around they have had to develop their own methods of dealing with enemies, predators and other nasties. Thus they have thorns and prickly bits and have developed a chemical arsenal to let us know in no uncertain terms who’s boss. So really they are intentionally trying to hurt us. I mean look at the cactus plant and nettles. Not so much pollen but lots and lots of rather unpleasant needles and grief causing leaves. So for the time being, I might shelve the lovely nature walks and foraging in the forests and curtail the skipping through meadows poetic style. If you want us, we’ll be found slightly further afield, all wrapped up in snow boots and parkas, merrily dancing with penguins, not a sniffle or a tear in sight, well not one caused by pollen and hayfever anyway.