I live on a hill, near the ocean, in a town with a “mediterranean” climate. At least that’s what the tourist brochures claim.
But it’s winter and that mediterranean climate has returned to the Mediterranean along with the rest of the tourists.
When I was a kid, on winter nights, our home all warm and cozy, Mum would shiver and then declare: Jack’s out and about tonight. Then I’d peek between the curtains, stare into the dark, and hope for a glimpse of this Jack she seemed to know.
In the mornings my sister and I huddled by the heater while Mum dressed us. Her hands were always cold, and we’d wriggle and squirm and complain. Exasperated with us, Mum used to say: Frosts are good, they kill the bugs.
I thought she meant those scourges of childhood, tummy upsets and sore throats. She was probably talking about the aphids in her garden.
Last week’s beauty frost didn’t kill off my cold germs. Oh, no. Not all. Now there are two of us in this house coughing and spluttering and sneezing away.
But I’m pretty darn sure it finished off the aphids. Frost was on our BBQ table until late morning. That’s never happened before, not in the nineteen years we’ve lived in this house
On mornings like this Mum would cheerily announce: Frosty morning, sunny day. She made it sound as certain as the pot of soup we knew would be bubbling on the stove when we got home from school.
But then came black frosts. What an affront to hope, fairness, and belief in your mother. This year we’ve had them, a lot; grey days when the cloud bears down on us before the sun has a chance to warm the ground.
Along with Mum’s curious relationship to Jack Frost, winter brought out her cold cures; guaranteed to see off sore throats and runny noses, or so she claimed. They ranged from lemon drinks to the foulest of elixirs, the very word sounds poisonous to me, to inhalations and ointment.
The ointment was the worst. You’ll feel better in the morning Mum would declare as she rubbed my chest, her fingers like ice-cubes on my skin.
I hated the stuff. It was stinky and sticky and it made me feel too hot.
This winter, with this cold, I was desperate for relief. I’d have considered an inhalation, even an elixir. Between sneezes I rummaged through my cupboards until I found an old tin of Mum’s never fail ointment. It’s so old it doesn’t have an expiry date.
With nothing to lose, I rubbed it in; my fingers cold, just like Mum’s used to be.
The next morning? I felt better. Not well, but better.
Last night I said to John: Use that ointment, you’ll feel better in the morning.
It’s not a lie, not exactly.
Tell me, how’s the southern winter treating you?
If you’re up north and enjoying summer, I’d love to know about that too. Your summer stories are a soupçon of hope to those of us down under.
Credit where credit’s due, inspiration for this post came from:
Curt over at Lies Jack Kerouac told Me
Hugh’s hilarious post: Ten things I hate most about summer
The WP Photo Challenge: “Close Up.”
And Photo101 Rehab
Categories: On Life