We have reached that time of year when soonness is in full bloom. The cherry blossoms are on their way, pale pink buds taunting passersby with hundreds of closed fists on barren winter branches. Peeking out my morning window, the sky says it’s shorts season, but a morning stroll tells me otherwise. A break from routine around the corner. A promise through the phone from the one you call home.
The bees are hard at work. They work around the clock, unlike the rest complaining over a 9-5 shift. Temperatures turned, and bees poured out from their nests—whirling, dancing, and buzzing. Closed fists have burst into cherry blossoms, white-confetti petals flapping in the wind and onto a ponytail. Blades of grass smile a bit greener at students. To return the gesture, students follow the paved path instead. Sky is bluer. Clouds are sparser. Birds sing louder, and wind howls quieter.
The bees have aided this transition. We are to thank the bees for their relentless pursuit. Yet, I hesitate to shower them with compliments for their primary pitfall: pollen allergies.
One week, each spring, all flowers take a simultaneous first breath. Each bud is a popcorn kernel, yearning to burst free, and they time their POP!’s for the exact same week. This celebration of pinks, yellows, purples, blues, whites, and reds curb serotonin cravings after a bleak winter. And, the influx of floral backdrops irritates sinuses everywhere. Pink hydrangeas may itch some eyes, stuff other noses. Purple tulips have a history of sore throats and sneezing for some. Yellow daffodils are a recipe for congestion and drowsiness.
I’ve had pollen allergies for as long as I can remember. My birthday falls on March 26th, a date which generally triggers my itchy eyes, raspy throat, and sporadic bloody noses. I remember a next-to-torture birthday when I had no discipline for eye rubbing. My parents were wiser on the allergy front, and they stopped me whenever my fists reached for my eye sockets. It was like free candy, and my mom was saying, “No sweets.” Once she tucked me in at night, however, I indulged. I must’ve thought I could rub all my problems away because I rubbed my eyes until it stopped feeling good and quickly felt bad, as if the bees had stung my eyelids. Squinting through tart, puffy eyes, I walk-of-shamed to my parents’ bedroom and asked them to fix it all. My mom lay a wet hand towel over my eyes and iced them down to an appropriate size and color. I woke up the following morning with a rawness resembling a good cry, popped some Zyrtec and Pataday, and did it all over again the next day.
I remember the morning my dad introduced the natural remedy. Late for carpool, per usual, he spoon-fed me a dollop of local honey with my prescribed pills. It reminded me of a friend who ate ten peanuts every day for a few years to overcome her peanut allergy. The peanuts and honey work best, which means the cure to your allergies may sit on a shelf at the grocery store. What a concept: ingesting the exact substance to which I am allergic. In the wise words of Abraham Lincoln, “Madam, do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”
Spring also brings one of my favorite pastimes: lacrosse. An outdoor sport, my love-hate relationship with spring is tested in the heart of April. I grin at the hydrangeas and daffodils who hug the field, but I sniffle and sneeze during each stop in play. I resist the urge to swat the honeybees, flying around the field with me, as I yearn to be on their good side. The sideline benches are tinted with lemon zest. Cars accumulate fairy dust if you leave them under a cherry blossom tree. Car wash stations make good money. Laundry and showers double, as nothing and no one are safe after leaving the house.
T.S. Eliot denies springtime giddiness in “The Waste Land”:
“April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire”
I think of the saying, “April showers bring May flowers.” It carries a tone of hope, of soonness, yet Eliot associates April with death and nostalgia.
Perhaps my friends and I do, too. With graduation looming, we mix memories of the last four years with a desire to do it all over again. Is spring an end, or a beginning? May it be both? We all can’t wait for summer, yet we mourn the end of the school year. Tears of joy, or sadness? It’s unclear. Eliot has a point—how cruel of spring to so willfully toy with our feelings?
And, we must acknowledge the omnipresence of soonness. Chapters are continually ending, and beginning. We resist change, and we lose, time and time again. Someone must be brave enough to aid the transition.
Thank you, bees.