July was the month where I seemed to get stung by everything! Nettles, mosquitos, horseflies, bees. A day didn’t seem to go by that month where one part of me wasn’t red, swollen and itchy! July was luckily also the month where I was introduced to Schweden-Kräuter, an ancient blend of herbs with seemingly mystical healing properties. A horsefly bite that had become hot, hard and almost the size of my calf muscle, alarmed me a little and I asked grandmother if she had any cream I could put on it. Instead of cream, she produced a scrap of fabric, a bandage, some bubble wrap and a dark bottle full of brown liquid. She mixed a little of said liquid in a bowl with water, soaked the fabric in it then placed it on my bite. She then placed the bubble wrap over the fabric and bound it in place with the bandage. The relief was immediate and a couple of ‘compresses’ later, my calf was back to a normal size and colour again. Magic!
Grandmother had given me a book about medicinal herbs a while before and advised me to look up Schweden-Kräuter, so I could learn more about the mysterious brown liquid I’d been putting on my leg. I was amazed by the amount the herb book had to say about this blend of herbs, its story seemed like something out of a fairy tale. The writer of the book referred to the ‘ancient manuscript’ she had been given with the recipe for this healing herbal blend and then continued to list pages and pages of examples where it had been used in different ways, effectively curing all manner of ailments. When my veins started to play out a strange game of dot to dot, swelling to join together the constellations of red bites, Schweden-Kräuter once again came to my rescue and kept them all in check.
When I got stung in the face by an ungrateful bee who didn’t appreciate me rescuing it from a friend’s hair, I attempted to give it too the Schweden-Kräuter treatment, but its location made the compress method a bit more difficult. Once I’d managed to carefully pick the sting from my jaw (like a thorn sticking out of my face with some bee’s intestines attached to the end), in want of a better solution, I soaked a cotton wool pad in Schweden-Kräuter and held it to my face with a doc leaf (someone else suggested these were good for stings so I thought it couldn’t hurt). I walked around town for a significant amount of time looking like I was pretending to be on the phone to a leaf but my arm soon got tired and the cotton wool dry and I had to abandon it. When the swelling got too sore again, one of my kind guests offered me a ball of cold mozzeralla from the bag of recently purchased groceries, which provided the perfect as makeshift cool pack and successfully made me look like a lunatic.
Over the coming week, my face grew in size until it looked like the result of bad photoshop editing. For want of some proper sting cream, I tried to bandage my face up with my favourite Swedish herbal blend, but the results weren’t quite as successful as I’d hoped. Pictured below is my fat, sting distorted face and some of the different bandaging techniques I attempted (a collection of awkward selfies I’m sure my family loved receiving in multiple whatsapp messages).
Having it on my face meant it soon become hot and scratchy though and I had to take it off so I cannot tell whether it did any good or not.
A couple of weeks later, the owner of the bees donated some of their honey to grandmother which she then shared with me. Fresh honey is a truly amazing taste sensation, with a silky texture unlike any honey I’ve had before. I have now forgiven the bees!