It’s finally June. Summer’s really here.
I still have a kid’s optimistic overview of summer: three months of vacation. No school; no coats, socks and heavy shoes; time to “hang out” with friends; curling up for hours with a good book; sleeping in the mornings until I wake up naturally; looking forward to a trip or two out of town; and freedom.
When I was a child, I could always make my own summer fun. A rainy day? No problem I’d go to a movie or have a friend over. Too hot outside? A movie was still a good option (The sign outside the theater used to say “It’s c-o-o-o-l inside!”), but the neighborhood pool was even better. Feeling bored? A bike ride, with friends or alone, led to the discovery of new neighborhoods, shops and adventures.
As a teen, all I wanted to do was ride my horse, or go to the beach (I lived in Florida then) with a friend or with my mother (who was scared to death of horses, but loved the beach, and was always willing).
Best of all was the annual two week trip to North Carolina to visit my grandparents, uncles and aunts, and cousins.
My cousins were like brothers and sisters to me and still are. As an only child, that meant a lot. I thought about being in North Carolina all year long, and summer was when it happened. It took two days to get there and two days back, from wherever we lived.
Without built-in technological entertainment in the car, I learned to read maps and to identify where we were by the things I saw outside. Landmarks, such as certain houses along the way, or a tall steeple on a church at the center of a small town (highways through rural areas and small towns were mostly two lane roads then) told me how much longer we had to travel to be at grandmother’s.
Back then, when you traveled by car, you took your food along or you took your chances. McDonald’s was several years in the future, so were all the other fast food franchises. There were diners in the towns along the way, but you had to hunt for them and when you found them you never knew what kind of food you’d get. Better to depend on mother’s fried chicken and deviled eggs and a thermos of sweet iced tea.
With a little preparation, a thermos can hold all kinds of cold drinks to quench a summer thirst. No alcohol Bellinis, for example, or icy Arnold Palmers. You’ll think of several more to beat the heat as well as the prices of commercial soft drinks.
PEACH BELLINI MOCKTAILS
1/4 cup peach nectar, chilled
3/4 cup ginger ale, chilled
1/4 cup fresh berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and/or sliced strawberries)
Pour peach nectar evenly into two chilled tall glasses (champagne flutes work well). Top with ginger ale, then fresh berries.
2 quarts cold, unsweetened strong iced tea
2 quarts cold, strong, homemade lemonade
Mix tea and lemonade in a non-reactive gallon pitcher. Pour over a few ice cubes in chilled glasses. Refrigerate any that you don’t use right away.
Makes six tall glasses full.
Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached at email@example.com.