As a kid, I was always eager for the arrival of summer. No more school! No more homework! Afternoons were spent on the Slip 'N Slide or running through the sprinkler.
As the balmy days turned from warm to hot, the Fourth of July would creep upon us, and I always walked down our gravel road and picked tiger lilies from the ditch to take to my grandma’s house for our family barbeque. We always had quite a feast — from homegrown corn on the cob, to juicy watermelon that instantly split under the slightest touch of a knife.
As we grow older, life has a way of speeding up. Before we know it, those childhood summer afternoons that seemed to drag endlessly on are just fond memories to be revisited. It is amazing how oftentimes memories of good times are interwoven with food. Watermelons and tomatoes are the iconic fruits of summer. The dog days just aren't complete until you can spit a few watermelon seeds. Generations of farmers and home gardeners have treated their families to the juicy goodness of heirlooms.
Now that I am a mom, I want to make sure my girls are able to make their own sweet summer memories. I plan on keeping those family and food traditions alive for my girls. You can be sure that a sprinkler will be in the mix, along with some ‘Orangeglo’ and ‘Ali Baba’ watermelons.
Speaking of traditional summer activities, do you remember what an old fashioned fair is like? The fairs of today are a horse of a different color. Now it is about cheap rides, chintzy trinkets and chemically processed food.
What happened to the foundations of the county fair? Where has the traditional agriculture gone? What about the home-baked and home-canned foods competing for blue, red, and white ribbons? Where are the handmade items that demonstrate the efforts of a youngster just learning to sew or the elegance of an experienced seamstress?
If you want a taste of your great-grandparents' fair this summer, I encourage you to come to the fourth annual National Heirloom Exposition in Santa Rosa, California, on September 9-11, 2014. We will be showcasing the heirlooms, the pure food, and the traditional skills you long to learn. Our guest speakers have the knowledge you want, and our vendors have the products you have searched for. Be a part of history and display your garden's abundance with the chance to bring home a ribbon to boot! Check out www.TheHeirloomExpo.com for schedules and ways to participate.
I hope you are able to step back from your crazy schedule this summer and enjoy a few of summer's simple pleasures in life. Get that glass of lemonade, a slice of melon and settle in on your porch with Heirloom Gardener for a good read!
Watermelon Lemonade Recipe
• 1 quart watermelon juice
• 1/2 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
• Preferred sweetener, to taste
To make watermelon juice, blend chunks of ripe watermelon flesh (seeds removed). Strain. Stir together lemon juice and watermelon juice. Sweeten to taste. Serve over ice cubes.
Emilee Gettle is married to Jere and is mother to Sasha and Malia, she lives a full life of gardening, crafting and homesteading. She has the distinct pleasure of associating with some of America’s most interesting people — heirloom and organic farmers.