Friday, June 22, 2007

Summertime Friday Five: Racing, Recipes and Rock'n'Roll


Favorite summer beverage

We never knew when it would happen, but on the very best days of summer my brother and I would hurry home from school, open the avocado green refrigerator that was older than the two of us put together and see that beige Tupperware pitcher sitting on the top shelf that meant Grandmama had made Russian Tea. Russian tea was a sort of non-alcoholic Planter's Punch. We'd spring into action. William would run outside to get some fresh mint from the side garden and I'd get out the glasses. With quivering arms (the pitcher was a little too heavy for me to lift as a wee bairn) I'd pour two tall glasses. Sometimes in our haste we'd forget to wash the mint and a little big or dirt would get into the glass, we didn't care. It was Russian tea. It was summer.

2. Song that says "summer" to you.
One good nostalgic turn deserves another. Mungo Jerry singing "In the Summertime" (youtube link. If you don't know this song you MUST click) my little brother and I used to pull our shirts up over our bellies and dance around like Baloo from the Jungle Book, slapping our stomachs to the rhythm and making what we thought were grunting bear sounds I am not positive, but I bet if William and I were in the same room this very moment and this song came on we'd start bellyslapping just out of habit.



3. A childhood summer memory

When my grandfather brought home The First Car I Ever Loved, an ultra-rare 1984 flatbody Conquest. I must have been five years old and I'd stand in the white cobbled driveway (it had oyster shells in it! so cool!) in front of the car. As the sun set I'd raise my arms and the headlights would magically pop up! then I'd lower my arms and they'd close their eyes. Years later that Conquest would finally become mine, and I'd spend all my time and money taking it to meets and races. Then the night of this race (click here to watch me driving up to the starting line) I blew my manifold housing, since I couldn't afford to have parts forged, I had to sell my sweet baby to a jet mechanic. So long Buckaroo!



4. An adult summer memory
I'll give you two for the price of one. The location is the same, the wild rooftop garden of a crayon-colored townhouse in Washington DC that had been converted to a hostel.
Scene 1: July, 18 1998. I had turned 19 years old that week and was truly in love for the first time. He was Dutch and looked like a tall, blonde Leonardo DiCaprio. Most importantly, he had moved across the ocean to be with me. Earlier that day we'd pounded the pavement of my former hometown and as night fell we sat on an old couch, my head resting on his lap, his left hand idly playing with the strap of my pale green dress.

I knew it wasn't going to work.
He knew it wasn't going to work out.

It didn't matter. We were two young kids, drunk on freedom and wild honeysuckle, and we were in love.

Scene 2: July 16, 1999.
One year and one ugly break up later I had returned to India House which strangely enough was being run by a bunch of young Irish girls. The man was John, a Belgian soccer player and all around good guy. I don't have many regrets, but I regret the way I treated him. He was a rebound for me, pure and simple. Arno, the Dutch Guy, hated Belgians, so out of spite I found myself a Belgian and set about making him mine. Unfortunately, he was also the only man I think who ever truly loved me. God, I was an idiot.

As the girls sat in the house, glued to the small television as the story of JFK Jr.'s plane crash unfolded, John and I were outside looking at the moon. It was bright enough to reveal the hidden faces of statuary that had been long overtaken by honeysuckle and ivy and the fireflies floated in the air flashing their mating call in pale green and yellow. I was on my back in the grass as John propped himself up on his elbows next to me. I told him that the moon was the other direction. He looked at me seriously with those dark handsome eyes that couldn't have been more different from Arno's blond and blue, and said "Dilleke, I like your snout."


5. Describe a wonderful summer day you'd like to have in the near future.
In Texas, summer is a battle. It's not something fun or relaxing, it's you against the weather. Every once in a while you get a break with a night that's just a little bit cooler. If I could, I'd like to take one of those almost-cool nights, throw a picnic basket in the convertible, grab some friends and drive into the country. We could build a small campfire, someone could bring a guitar and we's sing and look at the stars until the embers died down. Then I'd pile the folks back into Stella and drive home in silence while my tired friends sleep, quiet and happy.


**BONUS**

Recipe for my Grandmama's Russian Tea

4 cups triple-strength black tea, cooled
1 forty-six ounce can unsweetened pineapple/grapefruit juice
1 can orange juice concetrate, diluted with water (or maybe rum? -ed.)
1/2 cup lemon juice
sugar if needed

Directions: mix all together, chill and serve with fresh mint.


Rhiannon's Modified Russian Tea
4 cups triple-strength black tea, brewed with slices of ginger, cooled
1 forty-six ounce can unsweetened pineapple/grapefruit juice
1 can orange juice concentrate, not diluted
750ml limoncello or white rum
juice of 3 fresh squeezed limes

Directions: mix all together, chill and serve with fresh mint and two aspirin.

6 Comments:

Blogger Songbird said...

I just love your story about dancing to the "In the Summertime!"

11:02 AM  
Blogger Mrs. M said...

I have twinges much like your stories in #4. Beautiful people that I loved in some ways, but didn't love as they deserved.

If wishes were horses...

11:13 AM  
Blogger Sally said...

OOH I am going to have to make Russian tea- and I love Mungo Jerry- I'd forgotten that song- thanks for the reminder!

1:52 PM  
Blogger zorra said...

An outstanding play!
Thanks so much for the Russian tea recipes.

4:28 PM  
Blogger mompriest said...

Somewhere I have a version of Russian tea, hot tea, not iced. It was delicious. I remember drinking it at my aunts house, in the winter, yum.

Sadly, no more pineapple for me, so I can't try the iced version... I'm allergic....sigh...

oh. and well, as for bygone lost love and regrets - thank God we are given a second chance. Your second chance will come. And then, well, probably you'll be wise enough to see it for what it is.

7:36 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

thanks for the recipe!

6:59 PM  

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