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Des Moines used to be an oak forest, before humans settled extensively here, and to a large extent, it still is. The city is dense with oak trees. Three of them surround the home I grew up in, where I am now.

Oaks are messy trees. There is pollen in the spring, acorns by the bushel load in the late summer and early fall, followed by masses of leaves which stain the concrete brown when it rains. Now is the height of pollen season, and it falls like a light but steady rain shower on the driveway and grass. The pollen accumulates in piles and mounds. It sticks to the concrete when there's a bit of water to matte it down.

My mother was hosting an event this evening, and so this morning, I swept half of the driveway before I ran out of time before lunch. By mid-afternoon, you couldn't even tell where I'd already swept, so much more pollen had fallen. So I swept again, the whole driveway this time, and close enough to when the guests arrived that, at least when they came, if not when they left, the driveway looked largely presentable.

My sister, poor girl, is both allergic and asthmatic. She was so happy that the part of the country she's currently living in was finally out of pollen season. When she comes home this weekend, she'll need her drugs to keep her breathing.

And by morning, you won't be able to tell that I swept the driveway again.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 11th, 2004 10:34 pm (UTC)
Wow! I'm surprised the forest there survived the railroad's demand for hardwood ties. Must have been a transportation problem from Des Moines that saved them from the iron horse's grim reaper.

Missouri wasn't that lucky. Just about all the mature hardwood was harvested during the late 1890s to 1910 and floated downstream to St. Louis for cutting and creosote impregnation. Every once in a while while I'm out hiking I'll come across an old growth survivor and pay homage to it's spirit. They are truly awesome. About 5-6' in diameter and 65-85' tall with wonderful shade. I've never encountered an old oak during pollination time, so you've taught me something and that makes the day good.

My parents' old home used to have 14 elm trees around it. Dutch elm disease got them one by one and my dad and I had to bring them down and make fire wood out of them. So sad. The oldest had a trunk diameter of 5' and was almost 90' tall. It had ancient honeysuckle vines encasing it, each 4 to 6" in diameter, growing all the way to the crown. When they were in bloom, the hummingbirds swarmed it, the blossom's perfume was overpowering. And when the trumpets began to shed, it was a yellow-orange down burst with every gust of wind. That elm was the last to go, surviving the others by almost 15 years. My dad and I were of the opinion it was the protection of the honeysuckle that did it.
May. 13th, 2004 08:49 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure what the railroad's impact on Des Moines was - I should know more than I do. Of course, these days, only freight comes here. We have to drive 40 miles south to a small town to intercept passenger rail.

Honeysuckle is wonderful stuff. I love how it smells.
May. 11th, 2004 11:03 pm (UTC)
oh god, pollen
*sneezes just from reading your post*
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )