Recommended wine for today’s entry: Although obviously a little late, I researched recommended wines for a Fourth of July celebration. Loren Sonkin, a contributor at IntoWine.com, offered up the Seghesio Zinfandel Sonoma County. “It is a wine that goes great with food. It is not overpowering. The wine has great red berry flavors with some black pepper notes. It is easy to drink but more than just a ‘simple’ wine. You will find it great for your 4th of July picnics and BBQ’s.” The article says it’s in the $15 range and widely available. There’s plenty of summer left … you don’t need a holiday!
The Fourth of July is always super festive. It’s a great time to celebrate living in the greatest country on Earth. I’ve always loved Fourth of July, and dealing with excruciating heat is just the price we pay.
I learned to deal with the heat as a tot. In the 1960s, the kids in our modest neighborhood loved to dress up in costumes and festoon our bikes with red white and blue crepe paper streamers to participate in the beloved bike parade.
It sounds glamorous, I know, but it wasn’t always quite as alluring as it may sound. Sometimes the costumes, cleverly devised and toiled over for months by our mothers, were just a little ill-conceived. Not to be unappreciative, but the average high temperature for early July in this neck of the woods is probably 93 degrees. Lets take this cute ladybug outfit for example:
I most certainly have not been to med school, so perhaps I’m wrong here, but I always thought that living beings sweat in order to cool down the body and thus prevent the main organs, specifically the brain, from frying and turning to ashes within the confines of the skeleton. It is hard to see, but my mom strategically addressed the need to release sweat by covering my entire head with a very thick bathing cap. You see, no one wants to see a three-year-old ladybug sweat.
Then she encased my little body in plastic attached to what I believe might have been the tires to my brother’s bike, thus explaining why he wasn’t with me. I think we all know that a) ladybugs aren’t black, they’re red; and b) black attracts heat.
The other problem with the 1964 parade was that all the available scientists were working to get John Glenn to outer space, leaving no one to devise crepe-paper streamers that didn’t release their red, white and blue dyes all over small children when touched by sweaty arms or legs. Even if the kid wasn’t sweaty, older boys who were too cool for the parade (or whose mothers had stolen their tires) would squat behind bushes and blast unsuspecting paraders with squirt guns.
But dealing with stained legs for a couple weeks was worth it. The cooling effect the water snipers’ weapons provided probably saved my life.
As I’ve gotten older, though, I have adapted to the heat and humidity of the Fourth and have taken all possible measures to alleviate the stresses they cause.
Last night, for example, it was probably 90 degrees with 85 percent humidity at 8 p.m. So I very carefully closed my dogs in the air conditioning while forcing some friends and family to tough it out on the porch.
First, I gave my guests a refreshing drink, just like those hostesses in Southern Living. In fact, it was a recipe from that very magazine. It called for cucumber slices, blackberries, mint, sugar, lemon juice, gin and club soda.
If you think that sounds disgusting, you’re absolutely right. I’m not sure what I was thinking. Also, because I am really crappy at grocery shopping, we didn’t have lemons or lemon juice, so we substituted lime juice and only in half the quantity the recipe called for. And we substituted vodka for the gin because it was already in the kitchen and they are both clear.
I really wish I had a picture of the look on Michelle’s face.
The good news is, after we added Fresca, (because it was the closest thing we had to fill the void left by the lack of lemon juice) we were able to drink them as long as we didn’t breathe through our noses. This is because the bad taste was only surpassed by the bad smell, as the cucumber odor was remniscent of sweating in a spa and not demurely sipping a summer beverage at a Southern Living-sanctioned soiree. And they were strong enough to allow my friends to endure the stifling heat, eat deviled eggs that had been out in the hot sun for much longer than experts advise, wait until 10 p.m. to be served dinner and finally, to sprawl their 50-ish bodies on the hard, hot asphalt for a driveway fireworks display that can be described only as extremely pathetic.
I suppose we could have brought out some of the 20 folding chairs that were handily stored in the shed just behind the viewing area, but this way our guests were able to go home with thousands of bug bites they might not have gotten had they not gotten down to bug level, allowing even those non-flying pests a fleshy feast.
Of course, I carefully made sure that my dogs were closed in the air-conditioned house, but that was only after the black Lab had a mini heat stroke and foamed at the mouth. Remember, black attracts heat.
Just for the record, had one of my guests suffered similar symptoms, I would have allowed them to go in the house with the dogs. Or else I would have given them another of the luscious blackberry coolers. Luckily for them, no one seemed to need it.