A Thought: Sneezonal Allergies

A sneeze is a wish your nose makes.

lisa simpson sneezing GIF

Yeah, okay. Not really.

Sneezing is nature’s way of telling me that I should refrain from any and all outdoor excursions in the springtime. As an added bonus, I like to top my suffering off not only with sneezing, but with all of the available options on the seasonal allergy menu. If it’s between my forehead and my chin and it can sneeze, wheeze, or water, it will. At Firehouse Subs, they’d call it “Fully Involved.”

I call it March through May.

It’s a shame, too. Springtime is so pretty. It’s deceptive. I guess it’s comparable to the Sirens in Greek mythology, luring me outside so that my violent sneezing can…oh, I don’t know, transfer dandelion seeds to places where they can flourish miles away. (I’m not sure that’s how it works. I’m not a botanist or a Greek mythologist or an allergist. I just know that my sneezing creates its own jet stream this time of year.)

Beautiful? Yes. Or is it…?

Yes, it’s a trap. Much like the heartbreaking discovery that I have a severe cat allergy but happen to love the little creatures, I’m also a landscape and nature photographer who is allergic to springtime. Sometimes, I’ll even feel a twinge of sympathetic itching in my eyes when I just look at a photo of a pretty flower newly dressed for the season.

Still, I’ll brave it for the perfect photo. The way I see it, if I can get two or three good pictures before I can no longer hold the camera steady due to a sneezing fit, I’ve had a successful outing. Bonus points if I can make it home before my eyes water and swell shut.

However, if a sneeze is a wish your nose makes, I wish it would decide not to sneeze anymore.

A Slump: The Never-Ending Winter

It seems that every time we think warmer weather is on its way this year, we have ourselves a few tornadoes and then go right back into the deep freeze.

Snowfall in April was a dead giveaway that winter likes it here and doesn’t really want to leave, despite the fact that most of us have made it quite clear that it has overstayed its welcome and it should just look for other places to hang out because we would like to move forward into the next season that will give us at least a brief period of time to enjoy outdoor activities between the “freezing-to-death” months and the “I’m-melting-melting” months. (Whew. I should try to punctuate more often.)

April 7, 2018 in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Ugh.

To top it all off, I’m all about some nature photography. I really, really, REALLY like to capture each of the four seasons that Arkansas supposedly gets to experience annually. Every time I think I’ll have a spare Saturday to go forth and look for pretty spring trees, I end up at home…under a blanket…looking at the clouds outside and expecting the poor little flowers to wither any day now. Or, I’m huddled in a closet as the tornado sirens scream at the neighborhood. But, I’m still trying to find photography opportunities.

I’m too scared to chase the storms while they’re heading towards me, so I get in the car afterwards and follow them. Yep, I’m a chicken.

We have had some short windows of time when the conditions were good for springy, flowery photography, however.

Yes, black and white can work for spring photography. (This print is now for sale in my Etsy shop, MeticulousObserver.)
See?
These little guys are trying to make spring happen.
Okay, so…I cheated and went south and out of the state for this one. You do what you have to do to look for good spring photography opportunities.

Any suggestions on where I should go for upcoming photography excursions? (By the way, I don’t limit myself to Arkansas at all. However, if you suggest Hawaii, I suggest that you might need to help out with those expenses…)

An Observation: As I Was Saying…

In February, I said that Arkansas was in the middle of an alternative winter.

In March, Arkansas finally experienced winter-winter.

It’s a similar pattern that we’ve been following for a few years now. Last year was the exception; however, in general, we have begun to expect winter to give us one final show just as the trees really start to bloom.

When I saw the forecast, I knew it would be an interesting time for photography.

After all, I’d been walking around in mid-February carrying my jacket over one arm. The daffodils have come and gone in some places over the past two weeks or so. (I suppose you could say they are already pushing up daisies. Okay, I know…that little joke was bad. I can do better than that. I promise I’ll try harder next time.)

So, naturally, the tornado warnings earlier in the week and the impending Daylight Savings Time switch had to be surefire signs that a couple of inches of snow would be on the ground by Saturday night.

It’s Arkansas physics.

Having lost an hour already on Sunday morning, I still decided it was in my best interest to wake up a little earlier than normal to take photographs of the snowfall before it melted.

It turned out to be a very good decision. By mid-afternoon, most of the snow was gone, but I had a successful morning of photography…numb fingers and all.

The fog that had settled over the water combined with the snow falling from the trees created some outstanding photo opportunities.
The fog that settled over the water in combination with the snow falling from the trees created some outstanding photo opportunities.
I made a new friend, too.
I don’t typically shoot in black and white during March, but the snowy landscape was all dressed up for the occasion. (Friendly reminder…all original photographs are the property of Sara Garland. Please do not reprint or distribute without permission.)

I hope this was winter’s last big show for the year, because it’ll be hard to top that.

An Anecdote: Spring And The “Impossible” Scavenger Hunt

Ahh, spring.

Nothing can release you from the icy grip of Netflix quite like a few warm, sunny days in a row. And while spring can definitely be a volatile season, the warmer days eventually win. (Until it becomes the fiery, sweltering, charbroiled, mosquito-ridden season known as summer, which is another story for another day.)

Very few people are immune to the inherent charm of springtime. When I was in junior high, I remember it being the perfect time for some of our teachers to take us outside to do a little exploring to enhance our regular lessons. (An “Outside Day” in my P.E. class is where I learned that my best time “running” a mile was a record-breaking twelve minutes. Take that, Roger Bannister.)

In the seventh grade, I had to take a science class, just like every other seventh-grader everywhere. Being an early junior high course, naturally, it was a precursor designed to serve as the foundation for the more advanced courses we would eventually take (including the biology class taught by none other than my mother).

I recall one spring day in which we were taken outside and turned loose on a scavenger hunt.

On the surface, the scavenger hunt was fairly typical; split up into groups and find all of the items on your index card, most of which can be found easily in nature. Examples include a dandelion, a stick, or a particular type of rock.

I was always a people-pleasing-competitive-perfectionist type, so I was determined that our group would find everything on the list. My two companions in the group–whom I’ll generically call Chris and Johnny, because they’re nice, generic names and if they bear any resemblance to anyone it’s purely a coincidence, and that’s my disclaimer for all childhood stories unless otherwise noted–ran all over the place with me crossing items off the list and doing a fairly good job of it.

“Johnny! Did you find that feather?”

“Sure did!” Chris responded. “We only have three things left on the list! What’s left?”

“Umm…I’ll just look for the next one,” Johnny said. “Tree bark. That’s next on the list. I think I can handle that!”

“Okay! That leaves two,” said Chris. “I know where to find the sandstone. Sara, I guess the last one is up to you!”

“No problem!” I said. “Let’s look…umm…”

Oops.

“Hey…guys? I need a little…umm…a lot of help with this one.”

In our haste, we’d ignored Rule No. 1 of “Doing Assignments.”

Rule No. 1? What is that, you say?

Simple.

Read everything before you do anything.

We had spent quite a bit of time finding the items on our list IN ORDER, but one item at the bottom had an asterisk beside it–a BONUS item–that I finally noticed towards the end of class. The bonus item threatened to squash my pursuit of perfectionism.

A four-leaf clover.

The luck of the Arkansas-ish.
The luck of the Arkansas-ish.

“What? No way. I never find those things,” said Johnny. “I’m sticking to tree bark.”

“But…wouldn’t it be cool if we could find everything on the list?” I asked.

“We don’t have to find that one, though,” said Chris. “It’s a bonus item.”

“Yeah, but if the other groups find one and we don’t, that’s just…NOT COOL!” I said.

“I know what we can do,” said Johnny.

He reached down into a three-leaf clover patch and picked the biggest one from the ground. Then, he split one of the leaves right down the middle.

“There. Four-leaf clover.”

“Are you kidding?” I asked. “That’s the oldest trick in the book. You try to pass that off as an actual four-leaf clover and some leprechaun is gonna hide under your bed and try to smother you in your sleep.”

“What, you mean like the little guy on the cereal box? He’s not scary,” Johnny replied.

“But, if you try to do that, isn’t it bad luck? Think about it. If a four-leaf clover is good luck, trying to fake one has to be bad luck, right?”

“Y’all, stop!” Chris exclaimed, trying to bring us back to earth. “We don’t even need it. We do need the other stuff on the list. Let’s get those first andĀ thenĀ try to find a four-leaf clover. Okay?”

“Fine,” I reluctantly agreed.

Did we actually find a four-leaf clover that day? No.

Did we find all of the other items on the list? Yes.

I’ve probably found dozens upon dozens of four-leaf clovers SINCE that day. Sometimes I just look down and see them without even trying. People even bring them to me nowadays. It’s like someone is giggling at my thirteen-year-old self.

But, when I reminisce about that “impossible” scavenger hunt, I laugh a little and take in a nice, deep breath of spring air and think about how lucky I am to be outside enjoying something other than frost underneath my feet.

Ahh, spring.