High summer in Rhode Island. The days are long and sticky and oppressive (but not as humid as Ohio, where summer can feel like you’re swimming through tar). Although the mornings are cool and breezy, they burn off quickly once the blazing sun gets going. If you’re out for a walk, you probably spend it hopping from one spot of shade to the next.
This kind of heat always makes me think of that Gershwin song from Porgy and Bess, “Summertime.” You know the one: “Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.” My sister and I sang it a few times with our high school choir, and I remember our choir director telling us to slow it down, to saunter through the song. You can’t rush a song like this. You have to imagine you’re sitting on a porch in the twilight, shooting the breeze with a friend. Of course, try telling that to a bunch of high school girls who are always thinking of something more exciting than sitting on the porch in the summer.
Now I get it. I like the ease of having nothing in particular to do, of ambling through the day because there’s no helping the heat. Every year around this time I get the urge to sing “Summertime” to my sister (we have a relationship full of musical clips and BBC quotations), just because it captures this season like nothing else. The words slip out slow like molasses, and your voice slides from one note to the next. It’s the perfect song for summer.
And for refreshment?
Lemonade, only lemonade.
This is one of the simplest recipes I’ve ever made on this blog. You just need water, sugar, and a fresh lemon. It’s a slow and easy recipe, like the Gershwin song. You can let the water and sugar take its time to dissolve, and squeeze in the lemon juice at the last moment. You can chill it overnight or just pour yourself a glass right there. It’s a fairly sweet drink, so you might want to reduce the amount of sugar. It’s up to you.
Of course, in my opinion there’s only one right way to serve this lemonade. On the porch in the twilight, listening to Ella and Louis sing about summer.
(slightly adapted from The “Settlement” Cook Book)
3-4 tbsp sugar
2 cups water
Heat the water just until boiling, and pour over the sugar. (You may want to start with 3 tbsp and adjust to taste once you’ve added the lemon.) Stir to dissolve, and let sit until cool. Squeeze the juice of the lemon into the sugar water, and stir to combine. Add sugar to taste. Strain the liquid to remove any seeds or pulp. Chill overnight, or pour yourself a glass over ice.