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Finding remedies for what ails you

Published February 25. 2012 09:01AM

I don't need the groundhog.

I always know when springtime is coming because that's when I get a doozie of a headcold. And right now I have it. My head is more blocked up than the Lehigh Tunnel on a holiday weekend.

So I can safely predict that springtime in the Rockies is coming our way very soon.

Of course, it seems everyone is sick right now or just getting over sickness such as bronchitis, sinus infections, pneumonia, you name it. It's not a surprise. The winter has been too mild.

The wise old Pennsylvania Dutch say people tend to get sick during mild winters. That's because, supposedly, mild winters keep the ground from freezing properly. Making it worse is a lack of snow cover. Snow and ice hold in the bacteria.

"When the ground doesn't freeze, the germs come up out of the earth," my great Aunt Emma Minehart would say.

In fact, that theory might explain why headcolds happen during spring thaw even after the harshest of winters.

Of course, I have no proof it's true. But I learned not to question the bits of wisdom and folklore from the people of my roots in Palmerton, Bowmanstown, Lehighton and such places.

The Pennsylvania Dutch in Carbon and Schuylkill counties know a thing or two about the earth. They farmed the land for generations and their traditions have stood the test of time. They exchanged useful health tips at events such as Fersommling.

They even performed something called powwow to help cure illness, sometimes using a powwow stick. I won't get into powwow here. That's another column. But suffice it to say that I wish I had written down everything my Pennsylvania Dutch grandparents and other relatives told me about this and all sorts of things.

Back to the headcold.

I sauntered off to Wally World to get some over-the-counter meds.

True to form, I had to produce a driver's license and hand it over to the cashier. The government scrutinizes us when we select cold medicine containing an ingredient used in making meth. I innocently told the clerk I don't know the first thing about making meth.

"I don't even know how to make a cup of hot chocolate," I said.

Besides, with this bad headcold, I'm not in a mood to make anything.

Plus, I wouldn't know meth if I saw it. Unless it looks like a sticky bun and a cup of coffee, I'm not really interested in meth.

Still, I had to wait while she typed my driver's license data into a computer.

When one is sick, waiting can be aggravating. It made my cold feel worse. I wanted to put a curse on her with a powwow stick, but you can't buy a powwow stick at Wally World. They're not made in China.

It's been a week already and I'm still taking cold medicine. Not sure it's doing any good. I still have the headcold. So much for that potent, meth-related medicine. It doesn't work despite all of the fuss one goes through to buy it. My doctor prescribed antibiotics. Those should help.

But what I really wanted to do is consult with those long-gone Pennsylvania Dutch relatives and ancestors. How I miss all of them. They'd know the cure. And it wouldn't involve a computer or the government either. Don't you miss the folks you've lost? Don't you wish you had taken the time to jot down their pearls of wisdom? The old-timers seemed to know better.

We grow too soon old and too late smart.

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