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Summertime Sunshine

American poet John Greenleaf Whittier said, “The windows of my soul I throw wide open to the sun.”

Beach sunset Casey Key

SUMMERTIME SUNSHINE. Northerners long for it all winter long as they shovel the snow from their driveways and sidewalks. Folks across the nation watch the news for snowstorms, school closings, crashes caused by bad weather, and airport delays. I chose long ago to leave all of that behind. Quite frankly, I got tired of getting sick in November and remaining sick for several months and having this happen every year for the 4 years that I’d moved back to northern Indiana with my 3 small children following my divorce. So I moved to Florida. I’d lived in both Florida and Hawaii several times but reluctantly had to choose Florida because it was more affordable.The kiddies and I had also lived in Texas and Georgia (thanks to the USAF) too but those 2 states no longer had any appeal to me because we didn’t have any friends or kin living there. Florida won out tho this time; more affordable because of both the cost-of-living PLUS eventual college costs for public education are more affordable and we have lotsa relatives already living in a few areas in that state. A win-win situation.

People seem to be drawn to light. It seems as though since recorded history began, we have always been gathering around fires during hours of darkness. Evidently we have always enjoyed the warm dancing of the flames. I am particularly soothed by that glowing of embers, whether it be a simple candle or a campfire on the beach. Moonlight on the beach seems to weave its own particular magic too as it inspires songwriters and storytellers and artists. Both fire and the light of the full moon have had ceremonial uses throughout the ages by many peoples and religions for celebrations and events of various kinds. We seem to love the light of nighttime as much as the daytime.

I prefer the light of the sunshine. The light of the sunshine upon the water, particularly the ocean, revives my spirit. I enjoy the warmth of the sun and don’t wanna ever be without it. I am the first to admit that I probably spent too much of my youth basking in the glow of the wonderful rays of the Hawaiian sunshine and was usually sporting a golden suntan. Back then we didn’t know about ‘harmful rays‘ and I definitely do worry that every ‘age spot‘ that shows up now in my 50s may very well develop into that dreaded melanoma. But I still wouldn’t trade my SUMMERTIME SUNSHINE to move back to any state that’d have me living without it on a daily basis all year long. I don’t think that I could or would survive! I need that sun just as much as my plants do. I enjoy those sunsets immensely. I have always felt like a sunset is God’s signature on another ending of a gorgeous landscape!

Sweet Tea

Sweet tea, southern-style

I’m working hard today and it’s time for a break. Of course my #1 drink-of-choice is always and has almost always been iced tea. Here in the South, folks prefer SWEET TEA. In fact, they swear by it!!! Any eaterie will serve it. It will be sweet, really sweet. When you visit somebody, you will be offered SWEET TEA. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes lemonadeĀ or a beer will ALSO be offered, but you can betcha that in the South you will be drinking sweeeet tea sometime during your visit! So don’t turn up your nose at it. And if you move to the South, then you had better learn to like it! Oh, by the way….it is very often served in a Mason jar! Somehow it enhances the flavor (the opinion of a lot of us, haha). Many folks like it with lemon, some like it with mint. I normally drink it with mint simply because I usually have 3 or 4 types of mint growing in my garden.

I’ve been picking a few strawberries and blueberries out of my berry patch, trying to get to them before any of the’nuisance‘ critters do. I’m getting ready for a road trip so I need to tend to my gardens as much as possible before leaving. The blackberries and raspberries may or may not produce while I’m gone but there’s not much that I can do about that. Next up is my herb garden and all I can do is to pinch the tops off the basils so that they’ll grow fuller, as from past experience here in central Florida I do know that most types of basils can last 18 months or more! I’m putting 7 large pinwheels in my main garden to try and ward off some of the birds and squirrels that have been munching on my tomatoes (I have 12 plants already) and peppers and squashes and beans. I don’t know if they will keep ALL of the critters away but they surely do look pretty twirling in the breezes. We do have plenty of winds here in our part of the Sunshine State, and I’m hoping that they will at least keep away SOME of those varmints. I suppose I am the only one that can keep our puppy away from the pinwheels though!

When I was growing up, in Indiana (not the South!), my Mama served us iced tea EVERY night with our supper. I do mean every night: summer, fall, winter, spring. It wasn’t a choice, it was just a part of our meal. She cooked it in a saucepan on one of the 2 burners that was on the long island in our big kitchen while she was making the supper at the stove. Then she’d let it ‘steep‘ awhile. Right before supper, she’d have one of us kids pour the tea through a strainer into a large pitcher and add water and sweetener. We had to put the exact number of ice cubes into each glass and fill them with that beautiful amber-colored liquid beverage. Mama used Lipton loose tea and it always tasted perfect. When any of us had supper at somebody else’s home, we kinda missed having our iced tea. It was a tradition, I reckon, that you don’t even realize until later.

Nowadays I have diabetes and cannot add the sugar so I USUALLY sweeten my gallon-jug of tea with Truvia and Equal. Every once-in-a-while, I make it the old way with real sugar and then cringe as I take my blood-sugar reading the following day! It’s worth it occasionally if I don’t make it a habit! I also have made the switch to green teas. I also need to learn how to make hibiscus tea because I’ve got half-a-dozen gorgeous hibiscus bushes and my Hawaiian pals tell me that I oughta being making my own tea. I do like Jasmine tea. My daughter and I drink a gallon per day. Sometimes I make peppermint tea, or regular plain mint tea, or REAL tea (nowadays that seems to make me hyper and make frequent trips to the loo) but I do soooo love my SWEET TEA immensely! Well, I am thinking that I will go and have a jar right now!