I often develop a cough this time of the year. I have ever since I had a run-in with a pack of coyotes when I was trying to save a cow and her calf. I had to carry the calf and run, and we barely survived. The cold at around thirty degrees below zero froze and dried my lungs, and I have had problems ever since.

I have tried just about every kind of cough syrup that has been made. They don’t seem to ever get rid of the cough; they only reduce the symptoms. But that is better than nothing.

I have a friend, Lisa, who is a dental hygienist. We have been friends since we were young. One day, I had a dental appointment, but due to my cough, I had to cancel. I reset the appointment and then had to cancel again for the same reason.

I took cough medicine every day to alleviate the misery and to try not to spread the joy to others. At least it was Christmas break, so I was not teaching.

Hoping to get well before returning to school after Christmas break, I did everything I could think of. When I was young, we had lots of peppermint that grew along the ditch banks of our farm. We harvested it just for such purposes. I am still not fond of peppermint tea. But my wife uses lots of herbs to make a cough tea that is even stronger. Once I have coughed enough that my stomach muscles are sore, I am willing to try anything.

Between drinking that about five times each day and living pretty much on cough drops, I finally saw the cough subside. But I had learned from experience that when it does, that is not the time to quit. I had to take the cough tea for days beyond when I thought I was well or the cough always came back with a vengeance.

By the time school started again, I was not coughing, but I still set the dentist appointment for a couple of weeks later to make sure. When the appointed day came, I felt confident I was well and wouldn’t make anyone sick.

When I got to the appointment, Lisa gave me some good-natured ribbing. “I see from the schedule that you canceled twice. Afraid to come to see the dentist, huh?”

“Not the dentist,” I replied. “Just you.”

She laughed. “Why would you be afraid to see me?”

“Well, I know I don’t have any cavities or anything, so it’s you with the scrapers that will torture me today,” I replied.

“I like to do my best to make sure you get your money’s worth,” she said.

I then told her the real reason I had to cancel.

“Did you ever go to the drug store when we were growing up and get some of the cough syrup the druggist mixed up?”

I shook my head. “I didn’t even know he made any.”

“I don’t know exactly what was in it, but I understand it came from an old recipe that a company made way back in the 1800s,” she said.

The internet is marvelous. I pulled out my phone and found a picture of what it probably was. Of course, we didn’t know for sure what the pharmacist mixed up, but the one in the picture said it had alcohol, cannabis, and chloroform.

Lisa laughed. “You know, I don’t think it ever really helped my cough, but after I took it, I felt so good I really didn’t care.”