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Half Past Summer

August 3, 2014

 

Half Past Summer

 

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

 

 

Now, at half past summer, I am thinking of all the tastes of summer I have already enjoyed:  the June strawberries, Rainier cherries, peaches, red bell peppers, and so many other garden treats.

 

In the mid ’50s, my sister and I accompanied our dad to the strawberry field which was adjacent to the baseball field of Blanford Park (Blanford, Indiana).  If I remember correctly, the cost of one basket of strawberries was ten cents–five cents if one did the picking oneself.  In my mind, I can certainly picture that strawberry field with its perfectly straight, long rows–absolutely weed-free.  Even at such a young age, I decided that picking strawberries was hard on the knees.  Nevertheless, with the clearest of blue skies overhead, on an early June morning in Indiana, I picked my first basket of delicious, sweet, and juicy strawberries.

 

From the beautiful red strawberries, my taste buds move to the splendid red bell peppers.  Like most other people in my area of the Midwest, I grew up calling red bell peppers “mangos.”  Not until I was an adult did I switch from calling my favorite pick of the garden a “mango” to a “red bell pepper.”  How I remember these “mangos” from my dad’s gardens!  Although I more prefer the crunch of a fresh red bell pepper, I did also savour the pickled “mangos” that my parents and my paternal grandmother canned in Mason jars.  The mixture of green, orange, yellow, and red peppers in the glass jar made a tempting array.  As I munched on a red bell pepper from Metro Market for dinner today, I thought of my dad’s lush and manicured garden.

 

Happily, my nephew and his wife are enjoying the fruits and vegetables of their first garden this summer.  Their one-year-old daughter, my grand-niece, has demonstrated a fondness for tomatoes.  I recall that seemingly only on the hottest days of summer did my parents can tomatoes for us to relish during the cold months of the year.  One of our favorite summer salads was very simply one of chopped tomatoes and “mangos” in a vinegar and oil dressing.  Of course, my dad added little green onions to his salad.

 

Besides all the nutritious fruits and vegetables of this warm season, I can easily think of another kind of special summer treat–cotton candy.  When my sister, my guide dog, and I made our 3200-mile circle of the Midwest during four weeks of this summer, we drove around Twin Lakes Park, located in Paris, Illinois.  In my youth, I thought that the best cotton candy was at Twin Lakes Park.  Then, in the fifties, the cotton candy was still carefully wrapped around a paper cone–not served in a plastic bag.  Decades ago, in the midst of the merry-go-round and other rides for little children was the cotton candy stand which glistens pink, silver, and white in my recollection.  The lady who spun and served the delicate treat at Twin Lakes had a rosy complexion and white and silver hair; she wore a white uniform with an apron.  The heat from the silver, cotton-candy machine and the season made her pink face glisten with moisture.  Although I loved eating the cotton candy as a young child, I do not think I could eat more than a taste of the total sweetness now.  Nevertheless, the smell of cotton candy always brings me back to a simpler and sweeter time in life.  I still like the unforgettable fragrance of cotton candy–especially at half past summer.

 

 

Happy August!

Alice and Zoe

 

August 2, 2014, Saturday (for posting on August 3, 2014)

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5 Comments
  1. So many memories. So many warm days. So many smiles, and yes, so many lovely red bell peppers. For me, the first bite of the first cucumber of summer brought me to a place that I will always remember and can’t help but cherish. Thanks for a run under the sun. dp http://www.dplyons.wordpress.com

    • Deon–Cucumbers? Yes, I considered mentioning cucumbers and zucchini in this piece. Thanks for your nice comment! Alice

  2. Bill also liked strawberries. After his two strokes, one of the few things he was able to do was slice them into bite sized pieces and put sugar on them after I tore the stems off. Thanks for sharing your memories.

  3. Thanks for your colorful description of the delicious memories of our youth, Alice!
    Love, Mary

  4. Fran Rayce permalink

    Ahh. Someone else who knows about “mangoes” and their delightful taste. I too learned that most of the world called them peppers only after I was an adult. My family also enjoyed tomatoes and peppers in oil and wine vinegar; still one of my favorite summer treats! I don’t know if it was unique to my family but we called it “moya”.

    Fran

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