The Uncommon Cold

Cascadia, by Steve Henderson, at Samarah Fine Art, Whitefish, MT. March 16-19 at the Western Masters Art Show and Sale, Great Falls, MT

Lately the Norwegian Artist and I shared a cold together.

I mean, he had his, and I had mine, but we did it as a married couple.

And, as is the case with most things that married couples collectively accomplish, The Norwegian Artist was very male about the whole thing, while I opted to tap into my interior and external female.

At the first sign of any disease, I morph into Catwoman, stealing to the bedroom as soon as my work obligations are behind me, shutting the door, nesting under the covers, and sleeping. If I can find an actual cat, I bring one up for company and illustration, but the important thing is that I am screened from view and human interaction, blissfully alone with my tissues and my snuffling, and . . . sleeping.

Any progeny distributed about downstairs knows better than to expect anything recognizable for dinner, as, when I do descend, I drift to the sofa, collapse, and announce that tea and toast sound delightful, and will somebody who is not ill please arrange to bring me some and don’t forget the milk, thank you.

Tired of Being Youngest, knowing from experience that it’s easiest to get the tea and toast thing out of the way, indulged me, and I was agreeably sipping when the Son and Heir burst in, breathing hard.

“That’s a workout,” he puffed.

Sip. Nibble. Sip.

“Have you been running?” I asked.

“No, we’ve been shoveling chicken manure from the coop into the garden beds. We got in quite a few loads.”


“Yeah. Me and Dad.”

It’s Dad and I, actually, but that’s not the point.

“Your Dad has been shoveling chicken manure?”

“Yeah. We’ve been at it the last hour.”

And therein, my friends, lays the difference in how the Norwegian Artist and I approach the standard cold virus.

Evening Shadows, Room 140 March 16-19, Western Masters Art Show and Sale, Great Falls, MT

My theory is that, while the body is under the influence of attacking microbes, the white blood cell cavalry need all the help that they can get, and distractions, such as extra oxygen for physical exertion, should be kept to a minimum.

My snuggle time on the king-sized battlefield, while seemingly indolent, is part of a calculated military campaign to strengthen and support those valiant white cells.

Perhaps it has to do with years of staying at home with a series of very young children who suck the life and energy out of a female when she is healthy and robust, but when my energy wanes, I long for silence, darkness, peace, quiet, isolation – actually, the attributes that the average cat seeks all the time, sick or not.

The Norwegian Artist, however, believes that the Enemy Cold Virus needs to be attacked head on: sweated out, molested, assaulted, crushed, mashed, mangled, forced into unrelenting hard labor, deprived of oxygen, marched to the edge of the precipice and hurtled over the side.

Each shovelful of chicken manure is a rusty nail driven into soft warm virus flesh, a cannon ball smashing the outer walls, a volley of arrows and a catapult of boulders harassing and assaulting and assailing.

The Norwegian Artist gives no quarter. After the garden activity comes the daily walk (minus me), if not at full speed in deference to the health hostilities, at no less than 85 percent. If it’s still light outside, there’s time for a little wood chopping. Maybe the gate on the goat pen needs to be fixed.

At dark he’s in, sniffing, sneezing, coughing but abounding with righteous energy, consuming his tea and toast (which he gets himself), casting a calculating glance my direction, but wise enough not to say anything about his co-General-in-life’s tactical maneuvers.

In bed, at night, we both toss and turn, each with our private box of Kleenex.

The next day, the individualized health plans of after-work action (or, in my case, inaction) begin anew, until, three days later, the colds have run their course and we resume normal activity.

Mountain Lake, at the Western Masters Art Show and Sale, Great Falls, MT

I, in that three day skirmish, have had a delightful respite — making allowance for the headache, mild fever, and plugging of the ears — catching up on light reading, knitting a bit, chatting with the cat.

The Norwegian Artist  has filled half the woodshed, prepared two beds in the garden for planting, fixed the gate, walked the dog.

Ying and Yang, Norwegian and Pole, artist and writer, north and south, male and female, husband and wife — we are different enough to keep the other on edge, alike enough to enjoy being in the same room together.


Incandescence, by Steve Henderson, at the Western Masters Art Show and Sale, Great Falls, MT, March 16-19, Room 140 (Samarah Fine Art) Best Western Heritage Inn

About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She writes about life, art, and the art of life.
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11 Responses to The Uncommon Cold

  1. Loved your writing on how you both battled the cold, reminds me of myself and my husband…it really must be a man thing! Hope your both feeling better, I took a break from my painting, so happy that it was your story that stopped me in my tracks. Thanks for sharing, Melanie

    • Thank you, Melanie. Your kind words make me smile with joy.

      Do you know, I’m pretty much over the thing, but, not so oddly enough, the Norwegian Artist complains that his cold is hanging on . . . and on. Far be it from me to point out that our methods of fighting the infection are vastly different, and perhaps, one person’s method is more effective than the other person’s.

  2. tina filbert says:

    delightful, funny and true-very entertaining. thankyou!

  3. pegoleg says:

    This surprises me. I have a theory that most men handle the really tough things in life – “Mr. Smith, we’re going to have to chop off your arm.” – with a stoicism bordering on the ridiculous – “OK, just give me a leather strap to bite on.”

    With the little stuff – “Your temperature is up to 99.7. ” – they’re worse than 3 year olds. “I’m HOT, and my throat is scratchy and I can’t reach that glass cuz it’s 2 feet away.”

  4. You’re right — there is that reaction, and I’ve seen it.

    However, I’m thinking that sometimes males treat the cold like the arm amputation — hence, the battery of artillery.

    I don’t know — this would involve a deeper understanding of males than I have. And they say women are hard to understand!

  5. Anya says:

    In Russia we have a great saying about colds: if you treat it, it will be gone in seven days, if you don’t – it will take a week 🙂 .

    My husband too has been known to jog for miles with a fever, trying to jog and sweat the sickness out of his system. When I get sick, I feel justified to take it easy, since I am pushing myself 120% the rest of the time (while hubby likes to take things nice and slow and peacefully…). Perhaps this is also the case with you?

    • I’d say that we both drive ourselves at 120 percent most of the time, and we need some form of excuse to slack off and rest. For me, a mild sickness is a great opportunity for this, but the Norwegian Artist isn’t there yet.

      However, he finds warm summer afternoons opportunities for some serious hammock time — swinging, reading, dozing — mostly on Sundays, but if it’s hot enough, he allots himself occasional opportunities on a weekday.

      I seriously think the fetal position during a virus thing has to do with caring for children — generally a woman’s province.

      • Anya says:

        I don’t know about that fetal position – my husband loves to curl up that way…but then again, he’s more the feline in our home than I 🙂 By the way, I am glad the recovery came quickly! I often check in with your blog, and upon noticing that you haven’t posted in a while, I was thinking of dropping you a line to make sure all was well 🙂 .

        • All is indeed well.

          Lately, the schedule has been filling up with additional writing assignments — I am now doing a weekly art column for FineArtViews, an online newsletter of Fine Art Studio Online, and posting Middle Aged Plague with Area Voices, the blogging platform of Forum Communications Company — as well as arranging classes and workshops by the Norwegian Artist (travel time as well).

          I waited until midweek to post this piece because I had stumbled into posting the new work on Monday — not a good day indeed for a new post. I’m trying to nudge it back to later in the week, while at the same time keeping up with the additional writing assignments.

          I’m also squeezing in that daily walk with the Norwegian Artist and fighting with free time for sewing and knitting downtime.

          Oh, and I do try to connect with the kids now and then.

          Your concern warms my heart — I look forward to connecting with you online through the comments, and I treasure your posts. Your insight and your humor add depth to my thinking and musing.

  6. Pingback: The Common Cold and Common Sense | This Woman Writes (formerly Middle Aged Plague) by Carolyn Henderson

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