In “The Philadelphia Story,” a hungover Jimmy Stewart stumbles into view and announces, “I’m testing the air. I like it, but it doesn’t like me.”
I felt that way all week long, not because of alcohol but because of oak pollen.
It started on Easter Sunday when I had a few friends over for dinner. The menu, to which everyone contributed, was splendid: goose stuffed with sauerkraut, bacon and apple; herb-marinated pork roast; potato pancake with shallots; warm stuffed eggs; salad made from just-picked lettuces; grilled asparagus; warm multigrain bread with dill butter or anchovy butter; and nut-rich blondies for dessert.
But it all teetered on the edge of being wasted on me, because I could feel the fever begin. Shock of shocks to those who know me: I didn’t photograph a single dish. While I ate heartily and enjoyed my company, I could feel that by the end of the evening I would slink off to bed with some nasal congestion and maybe a sore throat.
All of this seems rather strange. Since the pollen from my tree oak trees started littering my drive and painting my car a brownish green, I haven’t been as bleary-eyed or sneezing as much as I did during cedar season. Still, I woke to a fever of 101 that lingered for several days and left me without much stamina. Or much of an appetite.
It’s hard to work on food stories when the last thing in the world you want to do is eat.
The first day, I managed to put away a tiny bit of Cherry Garcia ice cream I found. I forced an apple on myself the next day and even some leftover goose. But my pet bird was more interested in the goose than I was. A bowl of just-picked lettuces (oak leaf lettuce sits better with my system than oak pollen any day) and arugula with a touch of salt and olive oil plus another organic apple did the trick on Wednesday.
I did start cooking again that day, though. I didn’t want the goose to go to waste, so I made up a pot of soup with the carcass, some water, and the leftover stuffing. Too bad I didn’t want to eat more than a taste. The rest is in the freezer now.
By Thursday, I was feeling well enough to go outside to water the plants during a time when the wind wasn’t blowing. I cut some more greens and got back in the house in under five minutes. But that was enough to leave me dizzy for more than 10 minutes afterward.
It was time to visit the doctor, who gave me a shot of some magic potion that has not only made breathing somewhat easier but it has also made my ability to focus for extended periods of time return. My appetite has returned. I guess it’s time to crack the whip and get back at it.
My sympathies go out to the rest of you suffering from oak pollen. Soon, it will blow away. Then I can start worrying about the all the fresh-mowed grass in the neighborhood, which is really the worst of all on my list.