My Grandma’s house was full of familiar, comforting sights and smells, just like most grandmas’ houses.
The most prominent smell, mixed in with the aroma of delicious food (cabbage rolls! apple sauce cake! and most of all, pie!) was sweet grass. She would collect it, soak it, braid it, dry it, and use it to make her baskets. You know how a freshly cut lawn smells on a summer’s evening? All watermelonly and all? Sweet grass smells like that, only sweeter, mellower, heavenly, and much less likely to induce sneezing. And her house was permeated by this smell.
Besides the sweet grass, there were many varieties of plants, bundled with rubber bands and hung from the ceiling to dry on her front porch. She used these plants to make “good” medicine. There were always glass jars filled with amber liquid with parts and pieces of these dried plants either suspended or sunk to the bottom. They would always cure what ails you, and they would always taste nasty.
On one visit I had a runny nose. Out came the jar with what looked like milkweed pods at the bottom.
“Here.” Grandma said, filling a plastic cup. “Drink this. It’ll cure ya.”
“OK.” I answered humbly and meekly. “Are those milkweed pods?” I asked, postponing the torture.
“Yep! Just empty ’em, dry ’em, and boil ’em. Cures a runny nose and a cold.”
I manged to drink it and keep it down. And it did.