Allergies: Nature is really kicking my backside this year

When I was a kid, I could have rolled in the grass for hours... oh wait, I did, and not suffer the least bit from allergies. It should also be noted that when I was a kid (at least according to my selective memory) I could run far, work long hours and stay out all night without consequence. Well, no more. My current reality is that allergies are absolutely kicking my sorry beehind up and down the field, specifically, the 62 acres of field that make up Blue Gypsy Wines, just south of Ottawa Ontario Canada. I typically start taking allergy medication in May and go through to the first frost. One in the morning has been fine most years, but not this one. By the time noon rolls around, my eyes are itching and my sinuses start to ache. By mid-afternoon, the pressure gets to be uncomfortable. Being a man, I naturally think I am tougher than the allergy. To quote the that irreverent philosopher Spock (of Vulcan, not the Doctor): "I control the pain, it does not control me." Pfffft. Reaching the end of my tolerance, I decided to whine to my wonderful herbalist friend Rebecca Graves. Rebecca is the Herb Wife an awesome herbalist and all-around sweetheart. She supplies us with most if not all of our soap, salves, muscle rubs, etc. I love the fact that she makes EVERYTHING in small batches, often to order. I finally broke down and sent her a Facebook message asking her if she could help me out. She asked me to describe my symptoms. After some reflection and serious consideration, I wrote back: "I feel like crap." In my stuffed up head, I could hear her respond in her lovely British accent, "Yes, I gathered that," she said, "but try to be a bit more specific." So, I went through the whole story about how I would be fine until noon and by then my eyes would be itching so badly I could barely stop rubbing them. How my sinuses would start to throb and if I didn't take something right away, the pain would move across the top of my head and down my neck rendering me about as useful to society as screen door on the moon. I could see her shaking her head... A few minutes later, I received the response I was hoping for. "I'll put something together for you and bring it by the winery tonight." My sinuses jumped for joy. That night, she stopped by with a tea blend, complete with hand-written label giving me explicit instructions which I read through my swollen, blurry vision. "It won't do you any good if it stays in the bag. Oh, and the flavour may not be great. Just add some honey." "That won't be an issue." I said as I hugged the little bag like Gollum hugged the ring... Rebecca then went out in the field to gather some armloads of the numerous herbs we have growing wild all over the place. Next morning, I started drinking the tea. Just to make the experimental data relevant, I skipped the regular antihistamine. I actually felt pretty good. In fact, I felt SO good, that I decided to test this little bag of miracles by mowing 2 acres of goldenrod and assorted other nasties, with the full expectation of needing to run for the antihistamines. OK, that did push it, but honestly, nothing like I usually experience. Yes, I did take an antihistamine after that, but I was treating mild pain and not a 3-alarm pounding migraine. It's Day 4 now and I think I am beginning to stabilize. The pressure is light, actually bearable for now. We'll see how it is in a week or so, but if it keeps up like this, I am going to be a MUCH happier winemaker. Oh, I neglected to mention that I actually liked the taste of the tea, even without honey. Rebecca sells her herbal blends and assorted other wares online as well. If you like to get in touch with her, drop in on her Herb Wife website at If you do, please let her know you read about it here! ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Louis Gaal is the winemaker (and spouse of the ever patient Claire Faguy) at Blue Gypsy Wines in Oxford Mills, Ontario Canada, 45 minutes south of Ottawa. You can find this raving lunatic using the BlueGypsyWines Facebook or Twitter account. Visit them on the web as well at

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