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Even though one knows it will do no good to whine and whelp about the weather, it still seems to be the only thing one can do to vent feelings. I’ve been reduced to carrying on verbally when alone. It’s the only way I can publicly maintain my hard earned reputation for being a cock-eyed optimist.
Watching weather reports on TV is a sure way to tread the path to looneyville. The jet stream looks like a snake running amok. Instead of maintaining an even path from left to right it bounces up and down. Normally the bounces are fairly contained but there are days the drops downward are big falls, bringing with them cold air that should stay in Canada. The cold air in turn, brings rain and wind of historic proportions.
While we’re not having much fun or sun in Maine, take a look at the rest of the country and be glad we’re here. I don’t know about you, but I prefer rain to tornadoes and floods. In the middle of the country there’s either scary droughts or severe floods, not to mention fierce electric storms. In the west there are terrible fires, all started by horrible people, either by dumb accidents or sheer malice. The irony is that in some areas there is not enough water to fight the fires. It all makes the evening news weather segments appear to be scripted by Stephen King.
I have a minor personal problem – not being able to find a suitable eating pattern. Usually, at this time of year I tend to think about light, cool foods and ice cold drinks. Lately, when there’s enough sunshine and warmth to suggest such a diet, there isn’t enough time to start tossing salads or make extra ice cubes. Before I know it, my thoughts turn to soups and hot tea. Summer has gone and autumn is suddenly here.
One of the nicest summer dishes that I’ve always loved is a big bowl of cut, assorted fruits, cold, refreshing, sweet, and satisfying. It was a thing in our family – at the first sign of summer, we would open the pool and Roger would go into his one man cooking thing. He would always prepare the fruit, being much more adept at peeling, paring, and cutting than I. He really enjoyed doing it, mostly because he enjoyed eating the results, and probably, (although he was too polite to say it), couldn’t stand my version.
It took a while for me to attempt the fruit bowl caper, after I started living alone. A lot of other dishes went by the cutting board. Entertaining family for dinner was replaced by my doing all the visiting and being fed by others.
Occasionally, I would still make a pot of spaghetti sauce or fish chowder, and some other family favorites like lasagna, stews, and French chicken, and carry it with me then I trekked to visit. Eventually, this petered out as eating habits changed to lighter foods and special diets.
The last time I decided to make a fruit salad was during a rare hot spell and I wanted one. The shopping I remembered because that was my primary function. The trouble is, I have never figured out how to downsize shopping to fit fewer eaters. The grocery cart was soon filled with lots of wonderful stuff. There were: four big peaches, four big Santa Clara plums, four pears, four mangoes, four kiwis, 2 pounds of seedless grapes, eight big bananas, one cantaloupe, one honeydew, one can of fruit cocktail, two large cans of cut pineapple, a big jar of maraschino cherries, and four slices of seedless watermelon.
Getting it all home and unpacked wasn’t easy nor was clearing a preparation space. The next obstacle was finding a bowl big enough for the final result. I finally had to settle on a punchbowl, having given away everything else even remotely suitable.
It took hours to peel and cut up all the fresh fruit. I looked like someone just out of a shower; everything was so darned juicy. Try as I would, I could not turn out the small, precise pieces of things as my husband had done. By the time I had reached the point of the canned fruit, I needed more space in the bowl so had to transfer part of the first batch. We had always used the fruit cocktail and pineapple to get sufficient juice in the salad. The final touch was the cherries, which looked pretty.
So, there I was with two bowls of beautiful mixed fruit and no place to put them. I had forgotten that we had always had big, family sized refrigerators, and I now have a small, one-person apartment size.
When I opened the door and looked in, I groaned. The next quarter of an hour was spent rearranging, stacking, and stuffing all that I could. Then came the rudest awakening – I had to transfer the heavy crystal punch bowl with pounds of cut-up fruit, into the refrigerator, which was across the room – while pushing my walker.
I sat down for a few minutes to think my way out of my dilemma. Fortunately, I am a pack rat who saves all my 2 pound margarine containers and just about every other solid, reusable plastic container. I started ladling fruit into just about everything I had. I don’t recall how many packs of fruit salad I had, but they were stacked into my freezer and fridge and filled both.
The salad was delicious, especially when topped with either cottage cheese or ice cream, depending on my appetite and conscience. It was shared, but most was hoarded. I don’t think I’ll repeat the process this year. I’ll be busy making soups and fish chowder.
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