Stay, If You Want ❂ And A Recipe

There were only three people in the exercise equipment part of the community center several nights ago.  It’s turned quite warm and the swimming pool was notably busier than the treadmill and weight machines room.  As I was leaving the gym a woman and an unhappy-looking little boy about six years old were leaving the laughter and splashing chorus of the pool area.  The boy had a chlorine-scented towel wrapped around the hunch of his shoulders, and he was saying, ” I don’t know why we always have to go so soon.”  His mother reached out and ran her fingers through the wetness of his hair.

“If we don’t get home it will be too late to have a popsicle.”

“What kind do we have?”

“I got some new Spiced Chai and Maple ones and there is a Root Beer left, I think.”

The young boy un-shrugged his shoulders and voted.  “Root beer, root beer, root beer.”

The boy chose summer, I chose memories.

I remembered the summer chlorinated hair-fragrance that my now middle-aged children and young-adult grandchildren used to wear.  I remembered handing out popsicles and how they were too slender for happiness to ever hide behind.   I remembered those “why do we always have to go” moments from the fleeting days of summer and how we always looked for ways to hang onto them.

When I arrived home, I brought the mail up the hill and putting it on the counter mentioned to my wife Kathy, that I had thought about buying a box of popsicles but stopping at the store seemed a hassle.  Thumbing through the stack of bills and ads she suggested, “Maybe we could make our own; in an ice tray or something.”

“Less sugar,” she added.

 I turned six.

“What kind.”

“I bought a watermelon today.  Maybe we could do something with that. Look at this already, a Back to School catalog.”

Here in the latter part of July, just as the temperatures are beginning to feel like those of summer, not only are the Back to School supply displays being stocked, but retail summer-clearance sales are beginning.  At Michael’s craft store, where I went to get some drafting paper yesterday, fall gourds, harvest floral arrangements, and Halloween decorations have filled the shelves. A battery-operated skeleton with a black hood and a scythe shook and laughed maniacally as I passed both it and the scent from the newly-installed pumpkin and apple spiced candle collection.

The bags of summer seashells, the plastic lobster-shaped bowls, the bunches of tropical foliage, the piles of brightly colored outdoor dinnerware, and antiqued signs that read, Summer Vibes, To The Beach, and Welcome To Our Cottage had been relegated to a 70% off clearance area.

“Why do we always have to go so soon?”

I don’t think I was always very good at resisting getting out of the pool and being hurried towards fall, of being pushed prematurely out of summer’s one-way door by the conditioning that summer ended when the school year began.  But in more recent years I have begun to change.  Our children, our grandchildren, and the friends we love have grown up; they’ve grown older. Some are now only memories or photographs in an album. The question has arrived: 

Why for a moment be rushed forward by anything that siphons time away?

“And look at these,” Kathy added while handing me two more pieces of mail.  A hearing-aid leaflet depicted a white-haired couple, arms locked and smiles spread, walking through a park where golden leaves had fallen. The caption, Love – A Word Too Beautiful To Go Unheard, edged the brochure.  The other piece of mail, a type of advertising we started to receive in our mid-sixties, was a promotion for a seminar on estate planning.

“Why do we always have to go so soon?”

We don’t. There will never more time but there is hardly a moment in which there is not some choice, not some opportunity to resist the letting go of any season or any one day on the calendar.  There is never a need to let any moment become just another piece of the unnoticed woodwork of our life.

Next month, near the end of August, when the empty school buses are making their test runs through the neighborhood, I have an annual wellness exam scheduled.

I know the drill.  The doctor will check through the Medicare list of required questions and looking in my direction will ask, “Do you have a current Advance Directive completed?”

Last year when he asked me this question I said yes and he asked me, given my history, if I could share the directive with him in case he received a call regarding what choice I’ve made about life support.

I haven’t done that yet and this year I am better prepared with an answer. This summer I am parting company with the various outside pressures to rush through the seasons of my life.  This year when my physician asks me about an advance directive and wonders about my choice, I think I’ll un-shrug my shoulders and shout,

“Root beer, root beer, root beer.”

.………Easy Sorbet Recipe…………

Kathy’s Maybe we could do something with the watermelon suggestion found its home that evening in the discovery of a quick and easy and “you don’t need an ice cream maker” sorbet recipe whose icy-promise of hoarding summer shook off the menacing image of the hooded figure with the scythe and the summer-ending feel of the back-to-school-hearing-aid-estate-planning promotions.  

What an easy process. What a terrific recipe for warm weather.  If you don’t like watermelon, experiment.  We tried freezing chunks of ripe peaches last night with similar results.  No reason not to think that strawberries would be great.

Peach version

This is a loose description of our process.  If you’re more comfortable with precision there are lots of detailed recipes on the internet. 

Cut a small watermelon into slices (for your safety always keep a flat side of chunks down). Cut off the rind; cut the watermelon (or peaches or strawberries) into small chunks – the peaches froze remarkably fast.

Freeze the chunks of fruit until firm, but not so solid that they will not break up in a blender or food processor.

Squeeze the juice of one-half lemon or lime (your taste preference). Add juice to ¼ sugar or sugar substitute, and ¼ of water. Stir.  Set aside.

Put the fruit chunks in a food processor or blender – a few at a time per your machine’s capacity.

Add the lemon/sugar/ water mix to the chunks of watermelon (if you have to do a few chunks at a time because you’re using a blender instead of a food processor, divide the lemon/sugar mixture proportionally. You could add I suspect some mint leaves to the mixture; maybe a liquor instead of the sugar – what harm would a little rum do?

Process the chunks and other ingredients until the crushed puree is a slushie consistency.

You and eat the sorbet at this time (please unplug the processor first) or freeze the mixture to a hardier consistency by putting the pureed mixture into an at least 2″ deep metal baking pan.

Put the pureed mixture into freezer and every half hour for a couple of hours scrape through the mixture to keep it a slushie consistency.

Scoop it out with an ice cream scooper or a big spoon and into a dish or just eat it from the pan with a spoon and return the uneaten portion to the freezer.

Make, experiment, and eat until October says, okay – go buy more candy than you know you’ll hand out.

Summer – don’t be rushed away from it until you are ready.