Friday, July 11, 2014

Witticisms & Old Wives' Tales

I hate colds ...
Robert says the only time I'm not good company is when I'm sick.  Well,  I woke up with a cold. My throat is raw and scratchy, it hurts to talk, and I feel crabby ...

Whenever I have a cold, I always wonder about that old wives' tale and I can never remember whether it's "feed a cold, starve a fever", or "starve a cold, feed a fever".

As a child, I remember when Grandma Parrish was visiting.  If she heard one of us had a cold, she would grab her jar of Vicks and head for our room.

Vicks was slathered on our chest and back, a dab under the nose on that little divot between nose and mouth, and then on a hanky for when we blew our nose. As much as I hated the smell of Vicks (still do), I did sleep better, because I could breathe.

Colds are awful at any age
Grandma Parrish could tell me about the cold saying. She had a million of those old wive's tales.

She could look out the kitchen window, watch the leaves on the trees turning backwards in the wind, and predict, "It's going to rain" ... and within a few hours, it did.

If someone dropped a fork, or knife, Grandma would say, "Somebody's coming," and sure enough, someone usually did.

For good luck, she would "knock on wood", especially if she said something was going to happen and she didn't want to jinx it.

Clouds were always a favorite. She could look up at the sky and say, "Mackerel scales and mares' tales, sailors carry low sails". That meant rain within twenty-four hours. Another was, "Red skies at night, a sailor's delight. Red skies in the morning, sailors take warning".  Again, either rain, or a storm, within twenty-four hours.

When I was about ten, Grandma and I were sitting on the porch swing at dusk. She pointed into the sky at the first star and said, "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight". Then we would both send our wishes out into the night.

Whether the wishes will come true is anyone's guess, but it's an old wive's tale that I have passed along to my own grandchildren.

On second thought, I remember a few years ago, my oldest grandson, Liam, and I were on his front lawn one evening. We had just found out his mommy (my daughter) was having another baby. They already had three boys.

Liam and I had made our wishes to the first star and we were sitting quietly in the grass, enjoying the silence, when Liam said, "Gram, do you know what I wished?"

I told him, "No, Liam.  Would you like to tell me?"

Liam went on to share, "I wished mommy would have a girl."

Months later, mommy did indeed give him a little sister, Lauren ...

I remember Grandma had a plaque on the wall by the front door and I would read it over and over to myself. In my child's imagination, I would try and apply it to my world.

It wasn't until years later that it actually made sense to me.

Use it up
Wear it out
Make it do
or do without.

It could be applied to just about anything, but they are words to live by in a throw-away society like ours has become.

In the end, are old wive's tales actually "tales" at all? Seems to me that most of them actually work.

Now, if I could just remember how the cold saying goes ...

“A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write.” ~CJ Heck


Deborah Vaineo said...

I believe it is feed a cold starve a fever.

Yes, I had a million colds while growing up...and I hated them just as much as you do.

Wives tales I find most to be true, especially red sky in morning sailors take warning.



CJ Heck said...

Thank you, Deborah!

Hmmm, I wonder what we do if we have both a cold and a fever at the same time?? LOL

Thank you so much for reading and for your kind comments!