Usually when I get sick, I heed the cues from my body and chill out, hard. If circumstances allow, I will spend as much of a day as possible doing nothing. Doing nothing is good for us, and it seems that the only opportunity some of us have to do this is when sick. I will catch up on entire seasons of comedy and listen to my favorite podcasts. (I think laughing helps us get better faster.) I have always interpreted a cold or flu as an opportunity to slow down and take care of myself.
But sometimes we don’t have the luxury of pausing. I woke last Friday feeling off, but powered through my morning in hopes that ignoring it would make it go away. Last Friday was the start of Eat Retreat. A weekend that I have been looking forward to all year. No big deal at all.
By the evening I was out of sorts. A fever got the best of me and I tried to engage but focusing was a challenge. I went off to my cabin to sleep. Only, there was no sleep. I woke at one in the morning with a ridiculously quickened pulse and the sensation that nuclear waves of heat were radiating from my brain outwards. It was awful. And there was nothing there to distract me from my irrational, feverish misery.
At four in the morning, out of water and woozy and still sleepless, I got up to refill my glass. The walk to a water tap was far, and it was dark, and there were the sounds of things in the night, coyotes howling and twigs breaking and a wall of cricket chorus. I was too scared to get water. So I just sat down. I sat on the steps of the cabin and listened to the night. I listened to far-off owl calls, cautious footfalls in the dry forest duff, a wind that picked up and died, and the ceaseless and soothing cacophony of insects. Sitting there in the amazingly vibrant night time did something: it didn’t break my fever but it broke my misery. I felt better. Calmed. Okay.
Getting sick without our creature comforts can be so unsettling. There was a whiny five year old inside me who just wanted internet, hot tea, a tall glass of water, and some dumb television to distract me. It was a long night. But after that pause outside in the night air, it was tolerable. I crawled back into bed, listened to this album on repeat, and finally, somewhere around five or six in the morning, fell asleep.
And I have been wanting to comfort myself with this chicken stock ever since.
3 pounds chicken legs, wings, bones
4 carrots or equivalent, sliced in half
4 celery stalks, sliced in half
1 onion, halved
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs fresh parsley
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 hunk Parmesan rind (optional but highly recommended)
sea salt to taste
In a large stock pot, add all ingredients along with 4 quarts of water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for another two hours. You can reserve and use the chicken for soup.
Strain stock, spoon off excess fat, and add salt to taste.