Wow, it’s that time of the year when most are seeking the refuge from the beat down heat, where a “blue norther” would be a pleasant respite from the Texas Heat, aka purgatory.
This is my favorite season when BBQ’in is so nice, for 12 hours the heat of the kitchen is outside with a tasty adult beverage so cold that as you pull it from the galvanized wash basin it actually throws off a frosty steam. You can meander about your day finishing chores, watching TV or simply hanging out under that shade tree with a slight southern breeze.
Friends and family begin to gather, people start arriving with dishes of cole slaw, potato, carrot, & jello salads and garden fresh picked dishes of every bean known to southern gardeners! And you know there will be tomatoes, hopefully green tomatoes, to be breaded, fried and served with whatever dipping sauce you could hope for!
The anticipation of that meal makes you anguish so much! You know it’s about time as the checker board square tablecloths are set down on the tables with nice centerpieces of freshly cut flowers in mason jars - these are not just for the aesthetics, it’s also to keep the cloths from blowing off of the tables. Finally, the dinner bell is wrung, literally or figuratively, people scamper to their chosen seats, hands are clasped with one another as the patriarch or wayward hungry minister blesses the food and kinship. Being this is the South, ladies are given the first shot at this summer’s bounty, kiddos are next, being helped by the mothers to dress an equal portioned plate. Now it’s time to release the hounds whom wreak havoc upon the buffet! There will be enough for seconds, thirds, etc, yet the carnage proceeds. As all have gathered at the table it’s an eerie silence and cadence of forks clanking, tea glasses rattling with ice and an occasional smack here and there, where the appreciation of this summer feast can be seen in the eyes of all as they dart across the tables looking at one another. Slowly it begins, people moving about and back to the buffet for the selection of what they missed on the first pass or going back to their favorite. The kids quickly eat and drift away and the ladies rise to gussy up the buffet for the final stragglers. It’s here that a day of preparation has concluded in twenty minutes of eating! And of course, just around the corner will be the dessert buffet.
It’s these times when dessert is a freshly picked watermelon that must be eaten outside for two simple reasons, the spillage and mama won’t let you spit in the house, so seed spitting is rendered outside. This time of the year brings out the proud bakers with pies of every flavor from lemon icebox to rhubarb, pound cakes to coconut cakes and what would a summer BBQ be without fresh homemade vanilla ice cream, cookies and cream, peach or whatever your heart desires. That slow rumbling sound of rock salt, ice and cicadas making that noise they do while people gather with unfettered anticipation of the iced result. This is the time where dessert decorum is a come as you please and as often as you please.
With full bellies, most are trying to find a resting place, of course except for the solar powered kiddos, toothpicks are handed out and a sigh of relief can be heard around the picnic just by the noises of happiness .
As the sun slowly descends in the western sky, parents tend to drift away whilst the kids find such mischief in outdoor play of tag, Marco Polo in the pool and/or finishing off what may be left of the Fourth of July fireworks, men and dogs gather around the “que” area as the smoker burns it’s final ember and puffs it’s last breath of smoke, the dogs are hopeful of a dropped snack, ladies gather inside to clean the last of the dishes as gossip flys around the kitchen faster than the Martin birds scooping up mosquitoes and gnats. Newborns are laid to rest, guests dishes are sorted and sticky labels attached, the elders seek refuge from the going ons outside to slip inside and play their best Houdini imitation and sneak off to bed.
Finally the kids voices slow to a mellow peep as exhaustion sets in and the international summer time clock kicks in with halogen light on the light pole, telling the kiddos to get home, get inside, for bath and bedtime is approaching quickly.
The house goes from a full bore locomotive to the slow squeak of hardwood floors announcing most have scampered off to soft down beds with crisp linen sheets, the whirls of ceiling fans and an AC unit kicking out some rpm’s.
Finally the last lamp light is shuttered off and mamas feet could be traced up the stairs by the creaks of the hardwood stair steps, it’s the final adieu!
Goodnight y’all, tomorrow brings another day!