I’ve been feeling a little under the weather lately. Couple of days ago I’m talking to a friend on the phone, and she’s telling me what to do about it: cut up two cloves of garlic, two fat cloves, and swallow them. Or blend together ginger, the juice of three limes (or did she say lemons), honey and water, and drink that. Or gargle with salt every hour or so.
Now I’m not a scoffer at natural remedies. My grandmother raised me on bush tea. When I was sick and couldn’t go to school because of a cold or (for a year or two, till the pair was snipped out) tonsillitis, my mother would drop me off at one of my grandmothers’ houses. I preferred to go to my mother’s mother, because she had a television and didn’t want to pray with or at me at the littlest provocation. Nor did she ply me with tea made from leaves in her back yard. But I learned to appreciate what my father’s mother did for me as well, and developed a taste for “bitters”. The most common, and the bitterest, was cerasee. But that was later on, when I was big enough to know what was what. Before that, Momma had catnip in her yard, and that was what she boiled. Maybe that was what she gave to us when we were too young to take the taste of cerasee, which is really very bitter. And sometimes, when she couldn’t get cerasee, she boiled up gale-o-wind (I imagine that’s how it’s spelled).
They all taste awful. But she sweetened the deal with a candy of some kind — usually a Fox’s glacier mint, to which I was sorely addicted as a child (and another reason why I liked going to my other grandmother’s — she wasn’t sparing with the treats). And after a while, like a puppy, I developed a taste for the bitters. Or maybe it was a taste for the lime and the salt she seasoned them with. No matter. Since then, I’ve been a great fan of cerasee particularly, but gale-o-wind is fine too.
I’m going off to collect and boil some cerasee now.