In the Northern Hemisphere, especially up north in New England, the entire month of February is loved primarily for one thing; its brevity.
For New Englanders, our simple pleasures can not be compared to more POSH lifestyles elsewhere. Except for snow sports lovers, a lot of time gets spent indoors listening to recitals of all the things you plan to do once the weather breaks.
And yet we have it so much better than it was a mere half-century ago.
I recall stories of a doughty group of New Englanders who followed a primitive creed that eschewed such things as central heating. Instead, they relished uncut hair, unleavened bread, strong spirits, and woodstoves. I had it from a Coastie friend of mine ( a member of the Coast Guard for those of you “From Away”) that the group called themselves Samsonites and did not believe in modern medicine. Instead, they sought out more of what had made them ill, used warm poultices, and drank elixirs of rum and herbs.

One February, an elder came down with pneumonia after returning from a week of wood cutting on the Penobscot. Having renounced modern medicine, he turned down treatment at the local hospital and decided to cure himself by exposing himself to what he believed had made him sick. Assuming that it had been the cold of the camp they had lived in, he set up his bed to sleep with his head outside the bedroom window.
He turned in bed in the early morning hours and dislodged the board he had set up to wedge the window open. Down came the window frame on his neck. When help arrived a few hours later, he appeared to have a very sore neck, but his pneumonia was gone.

I was told this story one night in front of a woodstove while drinking some potent rum elixirs. I’m not sure it was true, but I discovered that the elixirs helped make February in coastal Maine go by that much faster. And that’s not a bad thing.

4 Replies to “Elixir”

    1. No, but it must of really hurt it. The story about the old guy is true, as reported to me by a friend in the Coast Guard – which qualifies it as a genuine sea story by definition (TINS – this is no shit). In other words, I heard it from another sailor who swore to me that it was true, and he knew who and how it had happened. In other words a real sea story.

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