My first memory of honeysuckle is tied up in childhood. After a summer t-ball game we would wander back to the creekbed – sometimes me and a little boy with red hair and freckles, sometimes me and my best friend, whose complexion was so fair she was nearly translucent.
We’d pluck the blossoms, orange, yellow, white, pinch off the ends and suck the sweet nectar from the blooms. The carnage we left in our wake got lost in the tall grass, the poison ivy tangled up in its kinder cousin, and still there was more honeysuckle climbing up the trees beyond our reach.
The sweetness of summers then seems almost too much. Was it real? Did I wear cutoff overalls, play in the creek, roast marshmallows over a campfire, stargaze on the trampoline, fall asleep to the orchestral swell of cicadas and peepers? (Yes, I did. I wanted to be Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird.)
It all seems so far removed now, that season worth celebrating because school was out and so was the sun. It was simple — A pure season, a celebration.
Looking ahead to this summer I anticipate a little less simplicity, a little less celebration. We will take refuge from the punishing desert heat with our iced tea and our ceiling fans and everything will be burnt to a crisp. We will say goodbye to friends as they move across the country, across continents, ahead of us. We will work as hard as we can to make the future come a little faster. But in all of it I’m hoping to bring an attitude of celebration — to see the good and commendable, the commemorative in every day.
1 Tbsp. vanilla orange vodka
1 Tbsp. St. Germaine elderflower liqueur
champagne or sparkling wine, chilled
Combine the liqueur and vodka in a small glass with ice and pour desired amount of champagne over. Peel a small segment of a lemon and rub around the rim of the glass, finally nestling the peel into the glass with the cocktail. If the end result is too sweet, add fresh lemon juice and a little more champagne. I found this to be delicious with a splash of Perrier, too.
To make the vanilla orange vodka: using this suggestion, I found that making small batches of infused liquor before mixing a cocktail yields the freshest results. For this, combine a cup of Ketel One vodka in a small mason jar with a small vanilla bean, halved, and two slices of an orange. Seal tightly and store in a cool, dark place, like your spice cabinet. I let mine marinate for about four days to reach the desired flavor concentration. The vodka ended up tasting like a fiery orange creamsicle, which was exactly what I was hoping for.