Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Butter Brilliance

We were about to embark for France when I noticed that the cap of one of the gas burners in the kitchen was slightly misplaced. I put my finger on it to return the metal disk to its rightful position, only to find that the burner had not been extinguished and the iron casting, heated by its surrounding flames, was crisis hot.
I jumped in agony as the tip of my left index finger burned to a frazzle.
Now, when I was young, in the early 1920s, and our doctor. Dr. Daley, lived several miles away and made up all his medicines in a shed in his garden, the home cure for burns was butter. And the results were magic when this every-day substance was applied by my mother.
So, without hesitation, I stuck my finger into a slab of butter, and kept it there for a few seconds to make sure that the burn was coated thoroughly. The pain was considerable. I worried about possible inabilities for our stay in Dieppe.
Every so often I returned to the refrigerator to re-butter my finger.
In an hour or so the pain had subsided and I saw that the end of my digit was almost white. It had a hard covering of dead and senseless skin.
Would it be possible to use my hand in the normal way? Yes, it would.
The pain went and, instead of a blister and a painful end to the finger, I had a hand with a perfectly useable and painless extremity.
There was no blistering, no pain, and the finger, now without sensitivity at its tip, was in use as normal.
Five days later the dead skin of the burn started to fall away. Scissors, deftly used, cut off the dry edges attached to living flesh.
Now, in place of the dead skin, newly exposed pink skin started to firm up and regain sensitivity.
There may be lots of solutions to burns, but by God, for this immediate cure, butter, as an ancient country recipe for pain relief and recovery, could hardly have been bettered - even in this medically advanced age of ours.