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Harvesting Hay in Eragny by Camille Pissaro, 1887

With Spring, comes a slew of allergies. A word, which was not coined until 1906 by Austrian-Hungarian scientists. At the time it referred to any hypersensitivity to harmless environmental factors or food. Harmless?! HA! Anyone with severe allergies can attest being laid up for days in a constant state of discomfort. Here in, “New Aldershot,” where I reside Spring is the most dreaded season, as it is a semi-rural community. In fact, today we just had or first Dust Storm. A bit early for us, by all accounts. Old timers just lowered the brim on their hats and kept toiling their land and walking through the zero visibility. Motorists, new to the scene, might have been panicking. For the most part, the dust storm is a precursor to a very allergy heavy season this year. The storm agitates the pollen and dust, dragging it from the fields to the city and beyond.


As hay fever and ragweed were the first commonly mass documented allergies. I am stunned by the thought of how many farmers or workers were in a constant state “discomfort” during the Spring season. Can you imagine not having a relief from allergies?! No anti-histamines? No nasal spray or eye drops? Gaaah! The sneezing. The wheezing. The migraines. And the infections they caused?! Good heavens?! How has the human race survived thus far??? I am fortunate that I do not have many allergies and rarely get sick, but My Suitor and his family have ridiculously severe environmental allergies (including one of their dogs, poor girl. She gets the sneezes.) and my co-workers tend to be absent en masse during the spring. One would hope we would have some a better defense from allergies by this time in our history . . .

It does make me wonder, how many of “Famous” Victorians suffered from allergies? Granted, how does distinguish between an allergy to pollen and not the lead in the windows, acid in the paint, manure in the streets, contamination in the food and water supply . . . ?