The faces of uncle Mackó


This is not a story about a toe-to-toe encounter with a bear (mackó=bear), since the uncle Mackó I’m talking about is a small statue, a special totem, guarding the traditional bath in Bățanii Mici.

It was an excruciatingly hot summer day, when one would like to escape to a cool corner and wait for the pleasant hours of the evening. But there’s a better solution here, in Szeklerland: diving into the cold mineral water. Uncle Mackó’s Bath is an ideal place for that. I wasn’t the only one that day who chose to escape the heat in the cool waters of the “Erdőalatti” spring, since there were many young people, squealing in the pools. I chose to take a dip in the more secluded plunge pool built on the mineral spring. On the wooden path leading there, I had already noted with satisfaction that I would be alone in the 11°C water. Well, not completely alone, since uncle Mackó was there to keep me company. This little “totem” symbolizing the symbiosis of man and bear, and thus our connection to nature, was perhaps even sulking a little at my interruption of his afternoon meditation. I ventured into the water of the circular bath, built of wooden beams, when suddenly I noticed that a sarcastic smile appeared in the corner of uncle Mackó’s mouth.

I have to confess, the water was painfully cold, I had to fight a separate battle with every centimetre, but after the last step I had no other option, I had to enter at once. After a quick dive, I fled outside to bask in the already easing afternoon sun. By the second dipping the water didn’t seem so cold anymore. I began to notice a strange phenomenon: along with tiny, subtle stings, the water seemed to be getting warmer and warmer, while the carbon-dioxide in it was deposited on my skin in the form of tiny bubbles. As a matter of fact, I found myself in a moisty mofette similar to those at the cardiology hospital in Covasna.

I came out of the healing mineral water feeling refreshed and full of energy, and it looked as if uncle Mackó was following my departure with a satisfied, “Didn’t I tell you!” kind of smile. 

István Demeter

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