Despite testing negative for COVID on the day before, I began to experience a scratchy throat, coughing, and sneezing on the return flight back to the US. I almost always get “sick” during Christmas holidays or extended travel. Apparently, this is known as “leisure sickness”, a term coined by Ad Vingerhoets, a psychologist in the Netherlands. Leisure sickness is the result of significant changes in the levels of adrenaline, a hormone that’s a crucial part of our fight-or-flight response. In an article in Conde Nast Traveler (February 2, 2017), Vingerhoets say, “The engine is kept running and new energy is constantly produced.” “This ‘useless’ energy may result in an imbalance in the body, resulting, among other things, in a weakened immune system, which may imply that one is more vulnerable to infectious disease.” Combined with allergic reactions to the high UK pollen count, I succumbed to the common virus. And to make matters worse, did I report that we came home to 90° plus weather; insane!
Nevertheless, we immediately began our busy routine in Hot Springs Village. Kay worked parts of Wednesday through Saturday assisting with our church’s United Methodist Women’s Bake and Garage Sale, a huge event. In addition she played lots of pickleball and golf. I played pickleball on Wednesday afternoon, exacerbating the virus. I rested on Thursday, but went to nearby Middle Fork Barrens Natural Area to do some photography Friday morning.
The first wildflower photographed was the common Selfheal herb.
The Selfheal herb has been used medicinally for centuries. In fact, the entire plant, which is edible, can be used both internally and externally to treat a number of health complaints and wounds. The parts that grow above the ground are used to make medicine. It is used for inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), diarrhea, colic, and stomach upset and irritation (gastroenteritis). It is also used for mouth and throat ulcers, sore throat, and internal bleeding. The plant’s most common use is for the treatment of cold sores.
Some people use self-heal for HIV/AIDS, fever, headache, dizziness, liver disease, and spasm. It is also used to kill germs (as an antiseptic), loosen phlegm (as an expectorant), and tighten and dry skin (as an astringent). Self-heal is applied directly to the skin for vaginal discharges and other disorders of women’s reproductive systems, as well as for wounds and bruises. It is a favorite of bumblebees and butterflies, and is the larval host of the Clouded Sulphur butterfly.
The Summer Tanager shown above landed in a nearby tree just as my walk began. We have a pair actively feeding on a suet block at the house.
Some of my favorite wildflower blooms were observed—their colors were sometimes subtle like Blue Star and the Plains Larkspur, while the red and yellow Indian Pink stood out among the otherwise green ground cover.
Even a few butterflies landed long enough for a photograph.
Appearance of the Bee Balm (Minarda) indicates that the rare Diana Fritillary butterfly is not far behind.
After only an hour afield, I returned home and went to bed.
Of course the cold was worsening, and reached its peak Saturday. In as much as it took five days to mature, it would likely take five days to wane. I returned to golf on Monday, albeit shooting a poor round.
The pollen “season” here in Arkansas leaves outdoor spaces and furniture covered with a dusty layer of yellow green powder. It has become an annual routine that virtually everything outside has to be power washed, and we generally try to clean before Memorial Day weekend. Tuesday, after Kay’s pickleball games, the power washer was connected to hose and power supply, and deck furniture moved. Kay and I made quick work of it, taking turns with the wand, and then using the blower to assist in drying.
Kay played golf Wednesday morning, and had some laser work done on her eyes in the afternoon. I played pickleball three hours plus at Diamante in the morning, and with three other hardy souls in the afternoon at the HSV pickleball courts in the high heat and humidity. The Book Club met Thursday, and while Kay was away, I slept most of day, recovering from the cold and from too much pickleball!