Heaven and the Other Place


Despite the title, this story is actually all about the color yellow, but it’s going to take a little while for us to get there.

Believe me, during this time of the year; the color yellow is something to sneeze about. And the majority of achooing around our house comes from Yours Truly. Keep reading, Dear Reader, and things will soon become much clearer. At least as clear as they can be in this yellow itch-inducing, sneeze-producing, cloud of death that has descended upon our fair town covering every inch of every thing – living or dead. It’s even chased all those slow-moving zombies away.

Being a Georgia native, I have a unique view on what I believe Heaven and the Other Place might look like. As a kid growing up on that old familiar street not so far away called Flamingo, I paid attention to every Sunday sermon. From his pulpit in the white clapboard church on the corner, Reverend Jim spent hours describing vividly Heaven and the Other Place. Don’t know what I feared the most, his description of the Other Place or Dad’s college ring popping the back of our heads each time we dozed off.

As an adult, my outlook on things have changed. I no longer fear the rapid thump of Dad’s ring keeping me awake during church services, and the picture in my mind of Heaven and the Other Place are nothing like what Reverend Jim painted from his pulpit.

For this Georgia Boy, the landscape of Heaven is filled with mighty pines, huge branching oaks, and majestic magnolia trees. Tall fescue grass covers the rolling hills in blankets of emerald green. As far as the eye can see, there are wild flowers in every color palette imaginable — all in a constant state of bloom. The weather in Heaven is that of spring in Georgia: sunny, blue sky, low humidity, with a slight breeze. The landscape is complete with Varsity restaurants around every corner. Friends and family will be there also. In a single word, Heaven is heavenly.

Oh, did I mention the one thing that will be missing inside those golden gates? Pollen. There will be no pollen in Heaven. All that yellow itch-inducing, sneeze-producing, cloud of death is just hell for any poor soul trying to breathe. And that’s why it should be left for the Other Place.

Unfortunately, it’s kinda like that right now if you live anywhere in Georgia. Which brings us back to this story about pollen. This past February was one of the warmest in history with it reaching 80 degrees not once but twice. The incredibly warm weather, combined with lots of rain, made everything bloom all at once. The yellow stuff isn’t supposed to arrive until later in April, but it’s here now.

For those of you not from Georgia, at any time during the entire month of April, the amount of pollen blown off of pine trees is so great it actually forms clouds of yellow mist. Drive to work in the morning and by lunchtime you can actually write your name on the car hood due to all of the fallen pollen. Yellow clouds cover everything and there is no outrunning the scourge even if you stay inside.

For those who have just moved here from out of state; the pollen will soon get so bad outside that walking from your house to your car will have you completely covered in the yellow stuff. But unlike trying to fight the Borg from Star Trek, resistance isn’t futile. You can fight back.

Over 30 years ago, Dad gave up his fight against Georgia pollen and moved to a beachfront condo in Florida. The breeze off the ocean keeps the pollen away. If you don’t want to move, you could do what our neighbor did. Last week he was cutting down trees in his backyard – ALL the trees in his backyard. When asked why, he took of his particle mask and sneezed out a reply, “I (sneeze) hate (sneeze) pine trees (sneeze, sneeze).” I think he meant to say it was all the pollen they produce that he hated.

The Wife and I are also fighting the pollen, but we’re not moving to Florida or cutting down any trees. Instead we are writing a letter. And by “we,” I mean me.

Right after all the pine trees, grass is the next thing to spew pollen forth into the air. Grass pollen makes me sneeze more than any other. The taller the grass, the more pollen it produces and the more I sneeze. So keeping the grass short is very important in order to keep the pollen (sneeze) count down. Because we live in a subdivision, I’ll soon be writing a letter to the HOA board urging them to send out a reminder to all residents: All grass should be kept short.

When The Wife read this story she said if I write the letter, then we will be moving. And it won’t be because of the pollen.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog: storiesbyrick.wordpress.com.]