Thursday, July 02, 2009

Sun Tea Summer Day

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It is impossible to rank the things you miss most at any given time when you are in a culture other than your own. Occasionally I have missed iced tea, which I used to drink year round in my midwestern, central-heating chapter of my life. Mostly I have missed the heat that gave you a thirst for cold, really cold drinks. Recently, in desperation, I tried to get a cafe in Inverness to pour hot tea over ice for a semblance of iced tea. They would have obliged me but they explained, "We have no ice." I smiled through it all and thanked them. Of course. No ice. I don't have ice cubes or an ice maker in my fridge freezer either. It is a rare occasion when we have need for cold. It is usually one of the things that you can count on being in ample supply.

Today is one of those rare occasions. Not only is it hot enough for iced tea--it is hot enough to make sun tea! All right, for those of you who know better--yes, sun tea can be made even in cool weather as long as the sun is out, but for me sun tea needs hot weather because it is the heat that drives the desire for it and also drives us out of the kitchen when even air conditioning cannot keep pace with the heat.

Sun tea conjures the recollection of those days when heat sent everyone into a lower gear, an alternative domestic life on the exterior of the house--porches, back yards, patios.

I remember how cool the water felt as my grandmother would spray us with the hose while she sprayed down the concrete patio to help keep the house cool and then reading comic books under the trees while anticipating chasing lightning bugs in the first cool of the evening turning into night. My grandmother's iced tea was lightly sweetened. I remember how my mother made a storm cloud of sugar poured into the tall glass and stirred into a tornado. It was the summer equivalent of those snow globes--as vigorously as my mother stirred, as soon as the stirring stopped, the sugar drifted down into a drift at the bottom of her glass.

My next door neighbour back in Westfield made the best sun tea ever. I don't know how she made it. She always demurred, as good cooks do, that she did nothing special and patiently explained to me again just how she did it.

There is in my mind also an association of sun tea with life in the southern part of the US --soft, like hint of Texas still in my sister in law's mother's voice. The connection of practical and frilly with adorning the top of a simple jar with a crocheted doo dah seems distinctly southern. I should have beads on the edge, but I am having to improvise up here in this improbably sun tea summer day in the north of Scotland.

I linger by my reclaimed jam jars, despite a boatload of chores and appointments, to watch the river of colour move through the water as the temperature gradients begin to dance. Physics and poetry collide in my mind as I conflate the brown stained water in the jar with the little streams in Batso and the peat burns through the moors. I have great expectations for this American intervention with Highland water, British tea, and genuine British mint.


At 8:33 PM, Anonymous ampiggy said...

so many threads intermingling in this lovely post. I hope it tasted good. I remember running through the hose on our lawn on a very hot day. In the early 80s, Before I had an air-conditioned car, when I was in outside sales, I would come home in the early afternoon to shower before I went out again.

At 1:09 AM, Blogger Hayden said...

beautifully written, a real delight. thank you.

At 7:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

iced tea on the Pstio, it don't get much better than that in Caithness // sc orrie //

At 12:12 PM, Blogger landgirl said...

It did taste good! I remember going for Sunday drives because my father had an air conditioned car--he was in sales, too, and did lots of travelling.

Thank you, Hayden. You are a love. I need to catch up with you.


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