‘Tis the cold and flu season, an especially brutal double whammy that often afflicts this part of the world at this time of year. You catch the flu and mutter to yourself, “I wish I flew the coop when I had the chance.” But alas, it’s too late. Besides, it’s much too cold to step outside when you have such a nasty cold.      
A contemptible cold bug has been circulating lately, a vicious virus that hits you hard enough to make you wish that you were dead but not so hard that it kills you.      
Every single bone aches. Your head feels as if it’s in a vise, and there’s scarcely time to breathe between all the nose blowing and the coughing.      
This abominable bug recently caught up to me. I spent hours of quality time on the couch, trying to alleviate my symptoms with various over-the-counter remedies. In my experience, most cold viruses will affect you for 14 days if you simply let them run their course but will last only two weeks if you treat them aggressively.      
Our kitchen table resembles the cold and flu section of a pharmacy. I’ve taken so many OTC drugs that were I to donate blood, it would probably be categorized as a controlled substance.      
I generally don’t catch many colds, and when I do they generally don’t last very long. Part of the problem, I think, is that I’ve let myself get soft.      
I recall having croup when I was a little kid. Or maybe it was Lassa fever or malaria or dengue. In any case, I was pretty sick and was coughing almost constantly.      
Dad came into the house from morning milking during one of my extended coughing spells. Wanting to eat his breakfast in peace and without a sickly kid hacking all over his oatmeal, Dad ordered, “Go out to the porch if you’re going to cough like that.”     
I was sent out to the porch, which had a roof but no walls. I was essentially outdoors, where the mercury hovered at 10 below zero. I was only wearing my jammies.      
As I stood there hacking out tremendous clouds of steam, a wondrous thing happened: I suddenly began to feel better. After spending only a minute in that super-chilled air, my fever miraculously broke and my coughing abated. Dad was a home remedy genius.      
Glancing up from his breakfast when I came back in, Dad remarked, “Looks like you lived. Cold air is good for you; it opens up the lungs.”      
That or it’ll kill you. Either way, my coughing would have stopped.      
This latest cold virus caused a perfect storm of suffering at our house. Specifically, my symptoms were at their worst on a day that was so cold and snowy that my wife decided the better part of valor was to stay home from work. No sense in becoming stuck in a snowdrift and forking over a day’s wages for a tow truck.      
My wife and I normally get along extremely well. When we go on extended road trips, we can spend multiple days together with nary a cross word passing between us. But the 24 hours cooped up at home with her felt like a week.     
The trouble began with one of my innocent questions.
“What did people do BK?” I asked as I blew my nose for the 100th time that hour. “You know, before Kleenex?”      
“They used hankies, of course,” she replied.      
“I mean even before hankies, back in caveman days. Did they use jars? And what was the standard size? Pint? Quart? Whoa, look at this. Is that a chunk of brain?”      
“You’re grosser than a boxful of slugs,” she said. “Speaking of which, you need to do a better job of tossing your used Kleenex. It looks like a snowdrift is forming by the wastepaper basket.”      
“Those can’t all be mine, missy. You’ve been honking like a Canada goose too.”      
Our frank exchange of views was cut short when I was gripped by another of my violent coughing jags. By the time I recovered, I was panting and sweating and had forgotten what all the fuss was about.      
The snowstorm abated somewhat by the next morning, and my wife, despite the hazardous driving conditions, was able to make it safely into work. She called to report that everything was fine and that she doubted she would ever again spend an entire day home alone with me.      
Maybe it’s time to pry myself off the couch and try Dad’s cold air cold cure. But first, I’ll have to shovel a path through that drift of Kleenex.
    Jerry is a recovering dairy farmer from Volga, South Dakota. He and his wife, Julie, have two grown sons and live on the farm where Jerry’s great-grandfather homesteaded over 110 years ago. Jerry works full time for Dairy Star as a staff writer and ad salesman. Feel free to email him at [email protected]