The Land of Counterpane

minnie-dibdin-spooner-the-land-of-counterpane-the-golden-staircase-1906-1I was sick all of last week, only I didn’t know it. I kept thinking I was getting better, but I kept on getting worse. It wasn’t until Friday when I had an actual t e m p e r a t u r e that I realized maaaaybe I shouldn’t go to work, and maaaaybe I would have to buy something other than allergy pills to see me through.

I can’t remember the last time I had a fever. It must’ve been around the same time I bought my old-fashioned glass thermometer. You know, the kind with m e r c u r y in it. The kind that I couldn’t read when I was little, but my parents, miraculously, could, another confirmation of adulthood’s otherworldly status.

Being sick meant several things when I was a girl: dry toast for breakfast, regular mini-glasses of orange juice, St. Joseph’s Children’s Aspirin in those tiny pink tablets, no tv, cool washrag compresses on my forehead, and lots of books. And one of my favorite books was A Child’s Garden of Verses (do kids still read this?).

Why? Because in the book itself there was a little boy who was sick, too! Just like I was. And just like I was doing, he was making up games to amuse himself, creating hills with his knees and covers, pretending he was a giant. Stuff like that. I surrounded myself with my dolls and stuffed animals and we would have tremendous adventures, building forts and hiking long distances, all without leaving my crib (I slept in a crib for a long time, but that’s another story).

Because I live alone, last week I did have to rouse myself to eat and drink and tend to Misha, my cat. But that delicious feeling of being half awake, half asleep, lying in bed and seeing pictures through a fuzzy haze and at odd angles? That reaching for any one of a number of books or magazines and diving in? Snuggling with a sympathetic pet? It was just like being four again, just as novel—slightly magical, slightly special. And while I don’t relish coughing and sneezing and sweating it out, it comforts me to know that I can still provide myself the best entertainment, when the chips are down. My odd little brain hasn’t failed me yet…

When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay
To keep me happy all the day.


One comment

  1. vajra2 says:

    My grandmother used to give me toast and weak tea with lemon when I was sick. It’s a wonder I didn’t become an hypochondriac with such a wonderful curative as a reward.

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