The skies over Tartu the past few days have been a milky gray, sort of the way your tea looks right after the billows of milk fill up the glass after hitting bottom. Tea is on the mind, for besides being under this gray weather, we are under other kinds of weather -- each of us a bit low.
I could tell the naine was a bit ill this morning as I descended the staircase because the odor of freshly chopped garlic was in the air. This creates an odd kinship between her and I. She isn't fond of tomato-base sauces, but we both appreciate küüslauk. And when she gets sick she has it around her at all times, as if sickness were a vampire come to drain her energy.
When we visited Laulasmaa spa earlier in the year we were similarly ill. Epp actually had a small plate of chopped garlic positioned near our pillows so that the cleansing fumes could fight the disease through the night while she got her rest. When I was cleaning out the room, I had to scan the sheets for individual slices of garlic that had fallen from the plate. It's just an Estonian thing, I am told.
Another companion is the aforementioned teas. In the United States, the local apteek is not stocked with medicinal teas with such exotic names as Icelandic tea, which brings to mind images of lichens scraped from the continental divide. Usually we reach for over the counter bottles of yummy fluorescent goo with names like Robitussin and Triaminic. We use that stuff sometimes here too, but with plenty of teas and, of course, mesi or honey.
The honey we have is in a huge jar and was made at the farm of prominent Estonian author Jaan Kaplinski. How did we get such honey without actually knowing the author?
Two reasons. First, Estland is a small country, and Southern Estland is especially small. Everyone knows everyone. Second, Kaplinski makes a lot of honey and is desperately trying to get rid of it so that his cellar isn't filled with jars. I wouldn't be surprised if Kaplinski stood on the side of the road where he lives handing the stuff out to motorists on their way to Võrumaa.
So I am eating Kaplinski mesi right now to stay healthy. Memm memm.