The annual Texas curse is back. It hits me the worst about this time every year. Cedar Fever. When the airborne pollen hits your nose, it mimics a really, really bad cold with its own special features.
You know you have it when your eyes burn and the roof of your mouth itches. And you get into sneezing fits while your nose runs. If it goes on and on until you want to die, that’s cedar fever. But despite the common name, it’s not “cedar trees” behind it. It’s juniper that the Hill Country’s early Anglo settlers called Mountain Cedar. Know thy enemy.
Nowadays, thanks to the damn birds carrying the seeds around, the trees grow all up and down the I-35 corridor, from about Waco in the north to San Antonio in the south. People in Beaumont, way over on the Gulf coast east of Houston, swear that a really strong cold front will bring the juniper pollen to them, too.
Texas Monthly claims cedar fever only lasts a week. They lie. It can begin in November and go on until around Valentine’s. Every year Austin allergists come up with a different reason why it’s so bad: too much rain, not enough rain, too cold, too warm. After 35 years of it I’m convinced they know nothing and have no remedies. Except a series of pollen shots you have to start in the spring. They’re expensive and they frequently don’t work.
Every year I swear I’m going to move to West Texas (preferably Alpine) to get away from this. But I never do. Maybe someday. The only blessing a really bad cedar fever season brings is to thin out of some of Austin’s godawful traffic.