Winter So Far

//Winter So Far

Winter So Far

It’s been quite a winter so far, huh? Hopefully it’s all behind us – the bitter cold, the unending accumulations of snow (persistent rain here in London, Ontario today) and the bitter colds.

I had a cough that lasted – well, thankfully not 100 days, like the 100-day cough or whooping cough that’s been going around. Pertussis is the official name of this contagious bacterial disease which starts off like the common cold but leaves you with the gift of unending coughing fits. The good news? If you have Pertussis and you’re reading this you’re unlikely to die from it as its victims are generally less than three months old.

My dry rattly persistent cough settled down after several weeks whereupon I thought it was high time to call my aunt, who lives north of Orillia, Ontario, and wish her a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

“Oh, I’ve been so sick,” I said, looking for a little sympathy.

“Did you get your flu shot?” she demanded to know.

“Well no,” I said and was about to launch into how I recently read about its effectiveness being in the 50% range and that it can also make you sick.

“I get mine every year,” she said. “And people say it makes them sick and I don’t believe them.”

Well. Not much to say to that, is there? My aunt is in her early 80s, but looks much younger. She’s from hardy stock, which means I am too, in which case I best buck up. I wrote about her father, my maternal grandfather Archibald Hoban, previously in Fragrance Of Ancestors. How he got stranded in ice off the coast of Halifax in a homemade fishing boat, Undaunted, in summer clothes and with just raisins left to eat. Perhaps beats your parents’ tales of having to walk five miles uphill – both ways! – to school in the dead of winter, huh?

So with my aunt, I switched the topic of conversation to how my husband B, helping me get into my frozen vehicle that morning – as chilled I daresay as Undaunted when plucked from the North Atlantic – had pulled half the driver’s door handle off. Okay, I’ll admit. I’ve been spoiled. For many, many years I’ve parked in a garage, one with a heated floor at that. Consequently, I didn’t know to just pour lukewarm water over it, like the procedure my aunt described her son, my cousin, had performed on her frozen vehicle that same morning whilst singing jauntily about the great white north. Hmmm. Then, just as I was about to get into the tricky part of standing on tippy-toes to unstick my glued on windshield wipers (I haven’t gotten into that habit of standing them up in the air to look like bug antennae, have you?), my aunt started going on about the benefits of her winter windshield cover.

“I don’t know where I got it,” she said. “I’ve had it for years. When I know something’s coming, I just put that on. It saves so much time scraping. And the windshield wipers work so well.”

My aunt and I had a great conversation, about family, about Christmases past and, signing off, I said, “Well, I’d better go get my flu shot and windshield cover thing.”

The best time to get the flu shot is October or November and since I’m not in position to head south for the winter I plan on getting one next fall. I looked it up and my aunt is right. This according to, a reliable health website: “MYTH: You can catch the flu from the vaccine. The vaccine is made from an inactivated virus that can’t transmit infection. So people who get sick after receiving a flu vaccination were going to get sick anyway . . . But people assume that because they got sick after getting the vaccine, the shot caused their illness.”

And I haven’t purchased a windshield cover thing yet, but I see some great deals for them online. Also, a friend showed me a can of windshield de-icer you can purchase that she says works great. I found some recipes online as well – says to fill a spray bottle 1/3 with water and fill the rest with Isopropyl Alcohol. Shake and spray. You can use this on frozen doors and locks too.

If you’re still coughing, my husband B found a great recipe called Bourbon Cough Syrup for Grownups:

2 oz bourbon whisky
½ lemon, juiced (about 2 oz)
2-4 oz water (opt)
1 tablespoon honey

Mix bourbon, lemon juice and water (if using) in a mug and microwave for 45 seconds. Add honey. Whisk, then microwave another 45 seconds. The recipe actually says, “Take it to bed and nurse it slowly with a book in the other hand.” Ah.

Also, think about investing in a good humidifier. This according to “By raising indoor relative humidity levels to 43% or above, investigators reported that they were able to quickly render 86% of airborne virus powerless.”

Winter, for many of us, ends up being a can’t beat ‘em join ‘em thing. Stay warm, drive safe and consider some of my aunt’s solutions: the flu shot, a winter windshield cover, minimal complaining. And be grateful you’re not shivering in your shorts in the North Atlantic clutching a handful of shriveled up raisins.



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