Friday, June 22, 2018

Cosmopolitan lemonade

As I made a pitcher of lemonade this afternoon, barely sweetened and tinged pink with a dash of cranberry juice, I thought of my maternal grandmother/

She died in 1967, a few days after my youngest brother was born.  I was inconsolable, as much from the shock that no one had told me she was that ill as from the loss.  As a parent looking backward in time, I feel for my father, who broke the news to me as gently as he could, while trying to juggle a wife and newborn in the hospital almost an hour's drive away, the care of 4 other kids and working full time at a job an hour in the other direction — in the days before paternity leave.

My most vivid memory of my grandmother is from a summer's visit to Long Island.  She took me — then a slip of a 6 year old from rural Illinois — to New York City. We saw the Empire State Building and went to see the Statue of Liberty.  I remember tired legs, but not the view.  Did we climb to the crown? 

And she made pink lemonade, a heretofore unknown-to-me beverage, from scratch. The sharp sweet smell of the lemons and the blush of the grenadine she swirled in.  The waffled aluminum ice trays with their levers that cracked the ice loose, leaving behind a smattering of chips. I can still remember how sophisticated and well-traveled I felt, sipping from a glass on her back kitchen stoop with a mint leaf floating on top.

What I made, I learned by peeking in my mother's 1950s cookbook, is perhaps more properly called a shrub than an "ade," the difference (according to Betty Crocker) being the use of sparkling water as the base.  As I sit in my study listening to the trees rustle and birds twittering and sipping a cranberry shrub, I might still feel ever so slightly cosmopolitan.


1 comment:

  1. The sacredness of ordinary moments! Thank you for sharing your warm and wonderful memory.