Yes indeed, today is Kool-Aid day. How do I know? The same way I know all holidays…brilliance. No. No. No. My long-time favorite site Brownielocks told me. Really. I have used Brownielocks since the beginning of Internet time it seems. No ads, no spam, no newsletter, no huge changes since 1999 or so. Really. I love that site.
In any case, the late days of summer as we count down to my birthday make me think of Kool-Aid anyway. In fact, they make me think of the time I had a bunch of neighborhood kids over. There really couldn’t have been more than 6 of us but it felt like a bunch. I was the oldest of our age group. There were older teens in our neighborhood but no one just my age. There were some between my age and my sister’s age and then some younger kids. We ran like heathens through the woods behind our houses, climbing fences. (forbidden, but we did it).
Home by the time the streetlights came on. Home without one of the many eyes on the street calling our mothers about our spats, misbehavior, crushed flower beds or wild yelling through the neighborhood.
I had the swingset, the hill, and a lot with trees.
S. had the sugar cereal, the best sandbox in the neighborhood and the chain-smoking mom and mudroom. (And as I started to tell this story, I realized that this memory was one of the good ones before S. moved. Before that birthday slumber party at her house where her father made perfect god-like pancakes (round! not burned! Just like McDonalds. The nirvana of my pancake world at that point) and had given S. a horse because their new house allowed for a horse. I freaked out about him driving us home from their new place to our house. I sat between him and my younger sister to protect her. From what I am not sure I knew then. About 6 years later he went to jail for things that made every decent adult want to puke. I do remember getting out of the truck and complaining to my mother that she or my father hadn’t come to pick us up and we had to ride all that way with HIM. (and then proceeding to tell my mother the many ways her pancakes didn’t measure up to S’s father) We never went back to see her. I saw her once at the local children’s clothing store after that and once when she was a pregnant teen mom. I didn’t like it either time, though through the lens of a grown up it wasn’t that it was her fault that I was uncomfortable. )
The other kids in the group were M and M. They had a great tree house, a German Shepherd that you had to love, and a mom who was a potter and a father with a train set I still envy and a room full of guns. Not always locked. I always sensed we would get in more trouble for playing with the trains than the guns but since their father was a fed sort of guy, we didn’t dare. The older M introduced me to all sorts of things boy. The younger M died very young and knocked everyone’s heart out.
In any case, I was sort of a rag-tag leader at times unless S’s older brother deigned to join in. One hot day when we complained that drinking from the hose was getting old and our mothers had all banished us outside, I got permission (or maybe not) to make Kool-aid. Outside. I slipped the pitcher and the packet of Kool-aid and a shy cup of sugar outside. Then started the hose. The result was my mother coming outside to see why the hose was still running. “I was just making us Kool-Aid”
Commence southern mother ranting about “enough water to float a battleship.” Kool-Aid making was off limits for quite some time. But, I did go through periods where I made Kool-Aid popsicles and of course, my own slightly more grown up Kool-Aid.
My mother though made the best Kool-Aid on the block. It wasn’t until I was almost grown that I found out she didn’t follow the instructions on the packet. She used 3/4 cup of sugar and a splash of bottled lemon juice. I make it that way now. Or I would. I don’t remember the last time I bought Kool-Aid for anything besides child’s temporary hair dye. But now that it is Kool Aid day and tomorrow is grocery store day, I think a packet of Kool-Aid…preferably green…is on the list. It is summer. It is frugal. And to cheat children out of bright colors and summer memories in the name of all natural? One pitcher won’t hurt.