My name is Hattie Abernathy…
Some people call me a witch, but never to my face. They’re probably scared I’ll turn them into a frog – not that I ever have. Yet.
The year is 1915 and I was born in 1812. Yes, you read that right – I’ll be 103 this year. I suppose you want to know the secret of my long life. Would you believe me if I told you it was all down to plenty of fresh food, fresh air and laughter? No? Well it is. And a little bit of magic, of course.
I’ve lived in Little Morven for most of my life. I stay because I’m needed and besides, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. I won’t say the English weather hasn’t started to take it’s toll on these old bones – these days I’m a little creaky in the mornings – but when you know where you belong, why would you want to be anywhere else?
‘Martha, my grand-daughter-in-law, came to see me this morning. She burned her hand yet again on those great ovens she uses. It’s not surprising. No-one can expect to bake a shop full of bread and cakes when it’s still dark and then serve all day without it taking it’s toll. She needs sleep. Well, she needs to get someone in to help her. There’s only so much that Tom can do – he’s supposed to be at school and Goddess knows it’s hard enough getting him there at the best of times.
She never was very good at asking for help but now that Michael’s gone it’s even worse. She feels like she has to do everything herself.
She had a big angry welt on her hand that had already started to blister. I could tell she hadn’t run it under cold water – probably just kept on baking until it got too painful.
Well I did what I always do and made her up a poultice of potato, aloe leaf gel and oil of lavender. It takes the pain right out of the burn and stops it getting infected. Even potato by itself works well. I keep telling her to keep some on hand so she can grate it up if she burns herself but she always comes to me. Sometimes you just need someone to look after you, I suppose – not that she’d ever admit it.
I make the oil of lavender myself. It’s easy enough when you know how. Of course I have some help from the fairies. They make sure I get every last drop of goodness from the flowers while I distill them. They hate waste which is something we have in common. Lavender’s one of my favourite plants – there’s not much it can’t do…but we’ll talk about that another time.
I expect you’re wondering what place an aloe vera plant has in an English cottage garden. It’s true that it’s too exotic for some tastes, especially around here but I’m not concerned with what other people think. They don’t complain when I fix them up – even if I do use a plant that grows mostly in the desert. My aloe plants are perfectly happy and the extra rain just makes them even juicier.
Anyway, Martha felt much better after I’d applied the poultice. The pain of the burn went right away and we sat and had a cup of tea before she went back to The Currant Bun. It’s the pain in her heart that I’m more worried about and there’s not much I can do to help with that. She needs to learn how to forgive before all that anger and sadness eats her up from the inside.’
Hattie’s Burn Remedy
Fresh grated potato – enough to cover the area of the burn
A squeeze of fresh aloe gel – enough to make a paste with the potato (optional)
A drop of lavender essential oil (optional)
Using a mortar and pestle, bash all the ingredients together to make a paste.
Smear the paste onto the burn.
Cover with a clean bandage or plaster.
Reapply 2-3 times per day with a clean dressing.
Paste can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Do not use on severe burns or when skin is broken as there may be a risk of infection.
If symptoms do not improve, seek the guidance of a qualified health practitioner.
This post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified healthcare practitioner with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Please don’t sue me.
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