On the first Saturday in May, Seattleites celebrate a pseudo-holiday known as the Opening Day of Boating Season. With the large amount of water found in the vicinity, boating is a popular pastime, and on a nice day during the summer you will find boats of all sizes and shapes on the lakes or the Sound as far as the eye can see. To celebrate the Opening Day of Boating Season, tens of thousands of people gather on the Lake Washington Ship Canal for a parade of boats, the annual Windermere Cup rowing races, and a fair bit of general revelry out on the log boom. The formal opening day celebration has been going on for close to ninety years now, and celebrations of opening day have been going on in some form in Seattle for many years prior to that.
Around here, a slightly more obscure tradition follows just a couple of weeks after the boats take to the water. Unlike the one above, this one seems to come relatively unheralded, and doesn’t seem to follow any sort of discernible schedule. Nonetheless, at some point in the middle of May (or if you’re lucky, you might manage to put it off until sometime in June) it is going to arrive, and when it does you will know without a doubt that it has arrived. It starts with soreness in the back of your throat, and slowly fills your head with all sorts of crud. Soon afterward comes the sniffling and sneezing, and the itchy throat that you just can’t seem to do anything about, try as you might.
Yes, the Opening Day of Allergy Season has arrived. Sometimes it shows up a little later than you might expect it, but usually it happens right around this time. It doesn’t come with any parades (unless perhaps you work behind the counter at the local drugstore) and try as you might, the chances are good that you’re going to be looking at a good month of this stuff by the time you’re through with it. About the only thing that’s going to be floating is your head, and the only thing running is going to be your nose.
Thanks to the miracle of modern pharmaceuticals (and of warehouse clubs that provide 300-count bottles of the formerly prescription-only stuff that would probably last you the better part of a decade) you can manage to stave off a decent chunk of the misery that normally attends seasonal allergies, but it;s unlikely that you’re going to be able to beat all the symptoms at once. Most of the time, you’ll find yourself in some state of general malaise, but you never end up feeling bad enough that you’d ever consider yourself to actually be sick, so you just go on with your life as usual, and keep the Kleenex close at hand.
Fortunately, allergy season doesn’t last forever, and eventually the symptoms will taper off and you’ll be able to actually enjoy some of the summer weather for a while, at least until August rolls around and brings it’s customary ridiculous amounts of heat, but that’s another story. Meanwhile, it’s time to stock up on Kleenex and unpronounceable generic allergy medications, and get ready for the long haul.