My brother John picked me up from the airport on Thursday. Bless his heart for waking at 5am to check my flight status. This voluntary early morning pick up from a guy who once needed an air raid siren to wake up. We had breakfast and then I got into my post-cold coughing jag.
“You want me to stop at Rite-Aid, Typhoid Mary?” asked John.
“No,” I choked between coughing fits. “I’m fine.”
I coughed all the way into my parents’ house. Greetings. Hugs. And within a few seconds, Ciocia Felicia thunked a small bottle of thick yellow liquid in front of me and handed me a tablespoon.
“What is it?”
“Spirytus, honey and lemon.”
Home-made cough syrup.
It’s in a recycled glass bottle that once held something similar.
Spriytus is 192 proof. Who needs Nyquil with Red #5 when my 84 years old aunt mixes her own elixirs in the kitchen? I took 2 tablespoons and slept for 4 hours, a mix of red-eye exhaustion and the warm burn radiating in my throat. When I woke up, Felicia said in Polish, “I didn’t hear you cough once.”
“You want me to mail?”
“Um, Ciocia that’s like mailing gasoline. I don’t think you can do that.”
As I photographed the Spirytus bottle today at lunch my mom reminded me that you can dip a little on your finger and light it on fire. Hm.
Now the house is sizzling with oil and onions and fish. The overhead stove fan is causing extra deafness. The table set. We’re waiting for guests. Wesolych Swiat! Merry Christmas everyone! The rest in pictures. (cough. cough.)