Outdoor thermometers around Small Town are reading -4˚. That's MINUS 4. And that isn't because of wind making the air feel colder than it really is. It really is that cold. Weather.com, a place where I spend time every day because I obsess about the weather, predicts it won't get much warmer throughout the day, maybe as high as 18˚.
It will be 48˚ on Saturday, though. That can't be good for people, this up and down fluctuation in temperature. When I was a kid, old timers always complained about this kind of instability, blaming it for colds and flue. I don't know about that. It has to get cold enough and stay cold long enough to kill all the bad germs out there, they would say. I don't know about that either. And I don't know if going outside in winter with wet hair can make you sick. I suspect that's not true.
The people who told me these things are same the same people who relied on their ideas—wives' tales—for all sorts of things. Babies get runny noses when they cut teeth, people told me when my kids were cutting teeth. But the pediatrician said that wasn't true, that babies might coincidentally get a cold at the same time a tooth was breaking through, but one didn't affect the other. I'm not so sure because I have a hard time believing my babies just happened to get a cold with each tiny tooth.
It wasn't just the old timers who told tales true or false. My own sisters filled my head with odd ideas. Scary ones, in fact. When we would sit outside in the summer and eat watermelon, it was fun to spit the seeds into the grass. If I accidentally swallowed one, though, my sisters would tell me that a watermelon would grow in my stomach, especially if I had somehow managed to eat dirt. If I ever ate sugar straight out of the bowl, they would tell me I would get worms. I imagined the worms eating the watermelon and thought maybe that wouldn't be so bad. Then the watermelon wouldn't grow. My sisters also told me that coffee would stunt my growth, so I was only allowed one cup a year.
I'm willing to believe that cold days mixed with warm days might wreak havoc with your immune system, but I don't think eating sugar gives you worms. What do you think? What wives' tales did you grow up with, and who lied to you to manipulate your behavior?