It’s been a yucky couple of weeks. I am ill! I have strep throat and I am a lousy patient and I am taking to my bed at the slightest opportunity to suffer not very silently under the quilt. It is years since I was properly ill, I get lots of bumps and bruises from clumsily falling over stuff or down stuff or into stuff but I rarely actually get ill.
I like to think this is because of the healthy Mediterranean diet of home cooked fresh food rich in olive oil and bursting with vitamins but more likely it is because I never go anywhere where there are crowds of infectious people!
Being ill in a Turkish village tends to be a community thing and as soon as the neighbours discovered I was “hasta” they arrived with remedies and advice. I was roundly chided for not wearing several pairs of socks, not wearing a scarf and I was force fed vile herbal medicine.
Village wives believe that drafts can kill you, almost instantly, and wandering around in bare feet is tantamount to suicide and only the truly irresponsible would go without a scarf indoors in February. They treat me like some kind of idiot savant, they assume I am educated and clever because I am from the west but I obviously have as much common sense as a kidney bean and they wonder how I have managed to live so long when I don’t know the slightest thing about keeping myself healthy.
As they point at my horny little bare feet and loudly tut at me I feel about five years old again and I can hear my Gran ominously muttering “Cast not a clout before May is out” as she muffling me in itchy vests and shrunken woolly jumpers and strangulating scarves just to go outside and play in the sun.To save me from imminent death Neighbours daughter is sent into the hills to immediately find the best herbal remedy and within short order I am presented with various bits of foliage and detailed instructions on how to prepare them. Sage is to be used for tea, one sprig of sage in a tea glass with boiling water, allow it to steep and then drink whilst hot and do this three times a day. I am more confused by the instructions that accompany the bowl of leaves and blossom that I eventually identify as Linden but I promise to do whatever it is they are trying to tell me.
Surreptitiously, as I don’t want to appear ungrateful, I send Nick off to the pharmacy for a serious course of antibiotics.A bit of research online and I discover the Linden Blossom should be made into an infusion and is supposed to be good for everything from hypertension to fever to stomach acid. Sounds like a universal panacea to me and rather unlikely but it doesn’t taste as vile as the sage tea. I drink it to keep the neighbours happy.
The neighbours very kindly bring delicious food gifts over the next few days which Nick scoffs and I can’t swallow and every time they visit I guiltily tuck my bare feet under my skirt and pretend to be getting better.Ten days in I still feel pretty vile despite herbal interventions and antibiotic overload but I feel more cheerful today as when I woke up I could see from my bedroom window the first cherry tree in blossom at the edge of the forest. It is the same tree that blooms first every year, behind the mosque, right where the village meets the pine trees and over night it seems it has gone from bare branches to clouds of pink tinged blossom, stylised as a Japanese painting, softly encouraging Spring to sweep over the valley. That alone was more of a tonic than any sage tea!
PS Lady from Brighton who sent me an email last night – I think you must have made a mistake with your email address because my replies are bouncing back. Please could you resend me your message. Thanks so much 🙂 Karen