We’re not necessarily blaming our son, the South Dakotan, for this horrid flu that dropped in on us complete with chest congestion, continuous coughing, and just for the fun of it, some belly button-deep sneezing. Rebecca calls the school he attends, and indeed, most schools, “germ factories.”
Then you have my late father, who suffered from a fate you could call “mechanic’s luck.” In other words, if you hear a ping in your car engine, it would be persistent if not increasingly louder until you steered the clunker into the shop. There the engine would purr like a contented kitten and the mechanic would look at you as if you were crazed.
Welcome to the realm of “germ factories” and “mechanic’s luck” — since the day before I came down with Martin’s flu I had visited with my doctor and felt about as well as a person can feel. Four days later the flu was in full swing, knocking both Rebecca and me completely off our feet most of Friday afternoon and all day Saturday. Sunday was a bit of forced reprieve. A few hours were spent hiding in the grasses of the wetland up the hill, across the gravel road from our prairie, to sneak in a few pictures of migrating geese. While off at the wetland, my smoker was up and going putting a little pecan “blue” on a rack of ribs. On the way back I even stopped for a short spell to help Rebecca pull cut buckthorn from the grove to place into piles to be burned later on.
Shortly thereafter my party came crashing down. Big time. One of my “sons,” Kevin, has been visiting us from Germany, and almost his whole time here after that first weekend I’ve resided either in bed or on the couch. We mustered up just enough energy for him to take us out for a “last” dinner the night before his departure, after which I came home to rub a menthol-salve on my feet and chest before laying down for the night for a most fitful sleep.
Rebecca has been pushing Echinacea tea into my system … even with a little lemon, honey and a jigger of whiskey included. Neither the plain nor doctored has seemed to offer much of a miracle. Other family members have swore by its magic, although it didn’t seem to help them much more than it has me. Medicinal miracles are hard to come by, perhaps. We’ve heard of these before, haven’t we? Hopefully the other herbs of interest are more effective, more productive of miracles than Echinacea.
Then there is the elderberry syrup. She’s been pushing that as well. At least this is more soothing, and seems to work wonders with her. Calming, yet moments later my coughing and sneezing returns. It was so good while it lasted, all three minutes.
What makes this tough is that while I feel compelled to stay inside to rest, I can’t help but see the skeins of geese flying across our windows, flying toward the two wetlands and farm fields so close by. I still like stepping onto the deck just to hear the constant chatter amongst them — through the wheezing and coughs, that is.
Last weekend my social computer network was full of reports from my birder friends who are visiting all those beautiful stops along the river valley, from Skalbakken County Park up to the National Wildlife Refuge just down the road. Many posted incredible images of the thousands of birds they’re finding along the way, from eagles to swans, from mergansers to ducks, from snow geese to wild Canadians, which only added to my discomfort. I wished to have been out there, too.
Then again, I feel I have some time to make up. After leaving the Mississippi Flyway in 1992 I missed so much of the migrations due to my working schedule and living in the middle of the “black desert” surrounding Clara City. Living in the little stranded prairie town didn’t offer much in terms of bird migrations, with no comparison whatsoever to the river valleys. A year ago, our first here in Big Stone County, we were involved in a sprint more than a marathon to remodel this old house into our new home. Arrivals on the flyways greeted us each morning as we drove the six miles out here from Rebecca’s house in Clinton. There seemed a tease of an awaiting promise. Next year, came the message. Next year we’ll all be together.
Anticipation of the migrating birds really made the winter seem shorter and tolerable, and now the season is here I feel too sick to be outside with my camera and binoculars. Don’t worry, write my friends, for the migration is just starting. There will be plenty to see once you’re well.
Perhaps the downed internet service since Tuesday was part of the grand plan, to help prevent a deeper discomfort from missing the migration. If so, I’m missing the message. Moments ago we had a conversation concerning my sense of isolation, from the illness to the lack of internet. When your bond to the outside world is not just inconsistent, but non existent, your sense of isolation is heightened considerably. It is how I can keep up with the news of the outside world, of trends and what we in the news business called “spot news,” and of course, staying in tune with folks from Australia to Austria, and from Clinton to Clara City, on the social network sites.
My internet was also my dictionary, my spell check, newspapers, my … well … medicinal mental miracle. Just an example, in a couple of weeks we have a bentwood trellis class through the Milan Village Art School with Jo Pederson, and I had a fleeting thought of looking through some patterns. Oh, yes, we have no internet. No link. No nothing.
In front of me is the machine of my methodology, minus the major tool that makes it really shine. Outside the geese are serenading the flyway, crossing the windows, leaving invisible paths of their web of life. Inside my wheeze-enlightened coughing continues, and I sip Echinacea awaiting any medicinal miracle.