Sunday, May 24, 2015

Fox in the Hay

A tiny sprinkle of rain and an overcast sky did not put a damper on our anticipation of a Memorial Day holiday ride across my parents old farm on the 4-wheeler. Unbeknownst to me at the time it was to be one of the last carefree mornings I spent with my husband of many years, Dennis Hardin.
We lolled and lulled along, enjoying the rolling landscape, the little pond surrounded by cattails, the crocking of frogs, the bales of new mowed hay marching across the fields, the smell of wild honeysuckle (yellow and gold) that hugged the fencerows. We were coming back up the east side of the field when Dennis spied a little fox caught in a bale of hay. The hay was bound with twine, and the fox was at the bottom of the bale, half hidden by the hay. His right hind leg was caught in the binding twine and about to encircle his throat from his struggles to free himself.
He was a beautiful little fox--a baby--with captivating brown eyes, a soft mouth, and perfectly symmetrical ears--a face that bespoke of youth and innocence. He was barely weaned, yet there was an impatience about him that comes from living in the wild.
How to loosen him was the problem. Since he partially covered by the hay and attempted to bite the stick Dennis put up gently to him, we knew he still had plenty of life. He was either badly bruised or had cut himself since a few green flies had gathered around for the kill.
There was no was to loosen the twine, now triply knotted and tightly bound round the bale. We had nothing with us to cut the cords that bound him in his prison. We raced back to the barn to get a pair of sheers to free him and were back in about ten minutes.
Our brief absence seemed to have resigned him to his fate. Dennis held him with little resistance on the fox's part, while after several tries, I cut through the twine. He was free. Swiftly as a bird he was into his underground hole a mere three feet away from where we stood.
Since then I've wondered, was his fate that afternoon accidental or pre-ordained? Like Burn's mouse, did the "best laid plans of mice and men go oft astray?" And the best laid plans of foxes, too -- did they, like humans, somehow manage to get to their destinations, though often through a labyrinth of unforeseen tangles?

Dr. Elizabeth Harden, retired professor from Wright State University in Dayton, OH is our guest writer for this post. She is no stranger to Ono County.
The delightful "Fox in the Hay" sketch is by Barbara Appleby.
Nash Black thanks both ladies for their efforts contributions to this blog.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Some Granny Cures

There was a time when grandmothers knew everything or were believed to by their young worshipers who treasured their presence when illness struck. Today medical science tends to pay Granny more respect for her home remedies than it did during previous generations when the marvels of science was all the rage.
     Splinters were common as toys and many other items were constructed of wood, not plastic. Most were easily extracted with a needle from Granny's sewing basket. If this method proved difficult and more powerful measures were required she reached for an egg. She cracked it, set the yolk and white aside for other uses and carefully pealed the white membrane away from the shell. She gently applied this over the break in the skin above the splinter. The theory being that the egg skin as it dried would draw the splinter to the surface to be removed with tweezers. Today, a dad of white glue can produce the same results when left to dry. It can then be pulled away bringing the splinter with it.
     Chiggers and mosquito bites were doctored with an old friend, Absorbine Jr. This one I know from experience and keep a bottle within easy reach in the bathroom spring, summer, and fall. How many can remember using clear finger nail polish to seal the little hole left by a chigger? Generally one application will stop the itching and burning so the bite can heal on its own.
     Forgetfulness was relieved by cutting a lemon in half and then rubbing the tips of both halves. Next time you cannot find your keys or your glasses try the lemon cure.
     Onions were just not for hamburgers. Every home had a supply of onions; the hot type that would instantly bring tears to your eyes when their skins were pierced. I remember them being referred to as 'keeper' or Spanish onions, they were hard and yellow that when cooked had a pungent taste. For colds and flu they were Granny's friends.
If you were coming down with a cold you would be fed fried onions for supper or given a slice of raw yellow onion to eat just before bedtime. By morning cold symptoms would be gone. For a cough due to a cold cooked onions would be mixed with honey for a soothing syrup.
Another tried and true cold treatment is to gargle with warm salt water before going to bed to relieve a sore throat.
My grandmother was a nurse during the terrible winter of 1918 when a virulent strain of flu raced across the United States killing many people. Her family never caught the flu as she kept half a fresh yellow onion in a dish by each bed. She discovered the ancient remedy in farm homes whose residents were ill, but did not die. When the flu virus was present in the room of the patient the onion would turn black overnight. Why this worked no one knew, but it did.
     Minor burns were treated by immersing the burned area in cold water and allowing it to dry, then the burn was covered with the scrapings from the outside of a potato and lightly bandaged.
     A Band-Aid was Granny's cure for scraps and cuts and my nephew firmly believed it. He bit his tongue and was screaming his head off when he was confronted with a mumble fingered aunt who didn't know anything. Have you ever tried to fit a Band-Aid to a three year-old's tongue? Once I applied the marvel cure he quieted down and was cured.