After being a mid-westerner all my life, I was sure it would be next to easy street moving south in terms of the weather. The locals all warned me about the super hot and humid summers. We moved last July so I am fully aware of the North Carolina heat, but it wasn’t much of a transition. After all, Michigan gets hot and humid too. It’s just has fewer days of the extreme stuff. Last year when October rolled around and we were still getting summer like-days (albeit scattered) people here were complaining that they were tired of summer. I was still smiling. Part of the reason we moved was to be warmer, so an extended summer was okay by me. I entered fall confident I had passed the south’s test of toughness. Or so I thought.
Since moving, I’ve had conversations with other Midwestern transplants about how living up north makes you tough. I mean, you can’t live somewhere where there’s snow and ice storms that chill the very marrow of your bone, where to walk or run on sidewalks requires sleet balancing, ice skating and snow-drift jumping and where the clouds take permanent winter residence, without finding ways to survive mentally and physically. One of the people I was talking to said her child’s day care provider here didn’t take them outside for recess because it was 60 and “chilly.” And she felt guilty because she had dressed him in shorts and no coat.
So winter came. And it did feel like winter but without the brutal. It suited me. Come March, everyone said to get ready for North Carolina’s beautiful and long spring. I was ready in February. The daffodils and crocuses had bloomed early and in places I’d seen pansies all year. But suddenly, the trees started budding and one by one my daughter, my husband and I got sick. No one. And I mean not one person I talked to in the last nine months of living here, all the while discussing the differences between regions, warned me about the pollen. The pollen here is as persistent as the snow back home. I was sweeping it off my porch; the cars were covered every morning with a blanket of yellow. Our steps deck steps, the front door of the apartment, even our coffee table. You name it, it was yellow. One blogger describes it like a mega dosage of mustard powder. I especially liked the description by another blogger that kids turn the same color as the school bus if they have to wait for more than five minutes.
Only after we got sick (and my daughter and husband were sick for weeks), did people start saying, “Oh yeah…North Carolina has some of the highest counts of pollen in the U.S.” “Oh, usually when people move here they have a lot of trouble with spring.” Maybe it was simple payback karma for all the smack I was talking about weather, but it might have been nice to have a warning. So…we’re getting through it, many doctors visits, prescriptions, sleepless nights, coughing and laryngitis later. And perhaps in time, we’ll adapt and truly pass the south’s test of toughness, pollen season.