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achoo. achoo. achoo. achoo.

This is my chorus of four sneezes which you’ll hear whenever pollen is floating around, when I’ve eaten sunflower seeds or when there’s been lettuce at dinner. Lettuces. This is something I was told I was allergic to during the great uticaria episode of 1999, during which time even scratching my own itchy skin with my fingernails brought up scratch-shaped welts. Dermografitis, they told me. Get me some zyrtec, I said.

But this blood test that resulted in finding out that I was allergic to “lettuces” (a group noun, if ever I heard one) means that every time I sneezed my four-part sneeze chorus, my friend at the farm would say to me “lettuces,” including during the middle of the night, when my sneezes were bouncing off the straw and mud walls. It made me laugh, as so very many things on this trip have.

I have laughed so hard with so many good friends, and lamented the fact that these people, my scattered tribe, are so very spread out. It makes me want to cast a large net and pull the ends together, cinching them towards me so that they’re not so dispersed.

But A belongs in Seattle, and M in Portland, L on the farm, R in Chicago, S in DC and the smithfamilynotrobinson in NY. And I find myself a fisher of friends.

So far the bait’s working. And I am very fortunate.