Greetings from the Live Mucus Capital of the World, where trees are sickening

You say majestic; I say evil. You know what we need to do? We need to get back to nature. The earth, the sky, the grass, the trees…

Hold up, say what?

Here in the Live Mucus Capital of the World, it’s the trees that make us sick. A lot of us. And real sick.

And that’s twisted, when you think about it.

Forget about the junipers, whose barbed pollen grains trigger cedar fever every winter (with this winter being the absolute worst for me). Junipers are an invasive, spore-shedding, water-gulping, fire-catching tree scourge. They came here uninvited.

But we also live among a lot of oaks. These are trees that exist by our choice, either because we planted them or deigned not to cut the old ones down. And they’re making a lot of us sick right now, ruining an otherwise beautiful time of year.

Oak allergy can make you feel tore down like a rented mule. It’s almost better when the allergies are giving you a sneezing fit—I once tried to count how many times I sneezed in one day and I lost track in the thirties. It was before 11am.

But at least then people understand why you’re so worthless and out of it. There are other times when you don’t feel distinct symptoms, you just feel like you’re coming down with something bad. You feel drained of energy, vaguely achy, and you brace for that wallop of influenza or whatever godawful disease is about to assail you. And you stay that way, for 6–12 hours.

Finally, that feeling of incipient illness goes away. And you wonder, “Was I just sick? Is there an actual justification for me feeling like my head is full of cotton and my ass is made of lead?” The answers are “kinda,” and “sorta.”

If you’ve never experienced tree allergies, you probably think I’m exaggerating. But if you have experienced them, and you think about their affect on you multiplied by thousands of your neighbors, you know that in a city Austin’s size, it costs us a shitload in sick days, lost productivity and pharmacy bills every year.

For those grand fucking trees.