Learning about the yellow rain

Published 8:37 pm Wednesday, April 7, 2010

As usual, my California roots — and I don’t mean my blonde ones — provided many laughs for my co-workers this week.

I’m earnestly been trying my best to adapt to Virginia life since being told my four years in northern Virginia — where most of our restaurants don’t even have sweet tea — doesn’t qualify as living in Virginia.

While I’ve loved my barbecue and now know what an oyster roast is, there are some things that will take longer to get used to.

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For starters, the fact that the sky was raining yellow and I had allergies for the first time ever this week threw me for a loop.

I grew up about 10 miles inland from the coast of California. Because of the coastal winds and the fact that palm trees are more common than pine, neither pollen allergies nor the yellow pine tree exist.

In fact, I’ve met more than one person who told me they’d suffered from allergies their whole life and moved to my town because their doctors said it was good for their health.

As I said, I never had allergies.

But on Tuesday I came to work with a scratchy throat, the sniffles and a feeling my head was going to explode at any minute.

Wondering out loud how I caught a cold in all this heat, my ignorance brought laughter to everyone in the newsroom.

Tim Reeves, originally from Alabama, went to the back, got a Claritin and explained to me that everyone has allergies in this weather.

During this conversation I learned what “that yellow stuff” was all over my car and put the two together.

I had noticed a little sprinkling of yellow earlier, but by Tuesday my little red car was covered in pollen.

I figured it was a tree I parked under but noticed my neighbor’s car was covered in the same thing. Five miles later, sitting at a stop light, I noticed the car next to me was covered in it, too. I soon figured out that every car around me was covered in this yellow dust.

The only explanation for it was either that Tinkerbell had sprinkled her pixie dust over the entire Hampton Roads area and we’d all soon take flight, or wildfires burned down a ton of yellow houses, which is the only time you ever see that kind of phenomena in California.

A nice meteorologist in Wakefield explained to me that the yellow comes from the yellow pine, which apparently sheds this stuff like a snake sheds its skin.

My not-so-nice, but well-intentioned, co-workers are still ribbing me about my ignorance. I am all about becoming a Virginian and if I have to suffer through allergies and the humiliation of being hazed by my co-workers, bring it on.

But I am not washing my car until all this yellow is done and over, just so I can take a picture of my car at its yellowest.