Cure for the Common Cold
The summer after graduating from high school, I got a job with a timber company in rural Idaho. Luckily, my grandmother lived nearby and she invited me to stay with her. Grammy was half American Indian and half Irish and she was more comfortable than most at straddling between two different life styles, not willing to forsake either heritage.
Shortly after arriving, I came down with a cold and was worried about missing my first day on the job. Grammy asked if I would like to try an Indian cure for the common cold. I agreed to try it, not knowing what I was getting into. So she went off to make preparations.
That night she took me to a secluded spot near the river where there was a low round tent like structure, like a wigwam but now covered with thick canvas instead of skins. Inside was a low pot belly wood stove covered with stones and blankets covering the ground. Grammy called it a community sweat lodge.
Next she had me strip down and she started smearing a gel like substance all over my body. She claimed it was bear grease mixed with eucalyptus leaves, but I think it may have been Vaseline. Before going into the sweat lodge, Grammy also stripped off her clothes. She assured me that was the custom for everyone.
Grammy was in her mid-60s and was in very good shape. Sure her skin was a little weathered and some parts were getting a bit saggy, but over all she still looked pretty good. I was not surprised by this turn of events as Grammy has always been the type of person that does what she wants regardless of what other people think.
As we climbed into the hot sweat lodge and got comfortable, Grammy explained that the healing process was not only physical, but there was a spiritual aspect to it as well. She said she had invited a few friends to join us in and help lead the ceremony. In a few minutes a couple of the older guys joined us who were known as spiritual leaders in the Native American community. We all sat around the stove sitting cross-legged and periodically pouring water on the rocks.
I was beginning to feel a little out of place with the age difference when Grammy announced that to show that the ceremony was endorsed by all ages, she had invited someone more my own age to join us. In the door came a girl named Jasmine that I had met years before while visiting Grammy. Only she was not a girl any more. Since I had seen her last, she had become fully developed woman in a way that was very noticeable in this clothes free environment. She flashed a smile at me as she sat down across the circle and to my right.
I could not help but steal a few glances at her. She had C-cup sized breasts with naturally dark skin and no tan lines. One thing I did notice is that like many Indians, she had very little pubic hair. It took a bit of will power to bring my attention back to the ceremony in process.
With their eyes closed in a state of meditation, everyone began a sing-song chant in their native language. With the hot steam, the eucalyptus smell, and the singing, I began to feel light-headed. The leader must have noticed and he declared it was time for a break. We all trouped out of the tent and jumped into the cold river to cool off. I was able to talk with Jasmine for a few minutes and get reacquainted, but then we went back in the lodge and continued the ceremony.
This pattern was repeated several times until I finally fell asleep on the blankets. When I awoke a few hours later, everyone was gone except for Jasmine. We were both still naked, but by now it seemed perfectly natural. She put some more wood on the fire and made me drink lots of water and then we went back to sleep. Early the next morning Grammy came back and picked me up and we went our separate ways.
I saw Jasmine a few more times over the summer, but since she had other romantic interests, we remained just friends. A couple weeks later she invited me back to the sweat lodge with several of her friends that were more our age. The spiritual emphasis was not as strong as my first experience, but it was a lot of fun.
Oh, yes, my cold did get much better, for a while, but then came back. I guess the cure is more of an on-going process with regular visits to the sweat lodge. I think it is a great tradition.
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