Thursday, February 05, 2009


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., 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?


dive said...

Yikes, that's nasty weather, Robyn!
As for old wives tales we were told as children, I have so many of them that I'll turn it into a post rather than list them all here.

Shan said...

Land-o-Lakes thats cold!!! PTL for electricity on days like this!! Ok, you've got me yelling here so I'm going to try to settle it down again and stop shivering.

I don't have any wives tales but I think you can "catch a chill" sometimes if you are a little on the weak side. My tiny grandma once visited Chicago back when my bro lived there and she totally got sick from being outside in the cold too much.

As for babies and teething. I love to form my own bogus medical theories so here's mine: When babies teeth, they chew on everything including shopping basket handles. This tends to raise their general levels of cold virus/germ exposure.

That's all I've got.

MmeBenaut said...

My mother and grandmother used owt's on me - but they were the usual ones: carrots to make you see in the dark and eating the bread crusts to make your hair go curly.

MmeBenaut said...

Oh yes and sitting on cold cement would give you "piles". Piles of what I often thought.

Your sisters were very mean to you weren't they?