When life gives you lemons… stock up, because lemons are hella expensive these days and if life is just giving them to you, that is an amazing deal.
Add some bourbon, if you’re feeling like an extra kick, and some ice, and definitely add some ginger. You’d think the heat from the ginger would make this drink less thirst quenching but it actually does the opposite- weird, I know. Don’t forget the rosemary. I know it doesn’t seem important, but it is.
It’s March in Vancouver which means, contrary to what our East Coast cousins have been experiencing, we’re in Full Spring Mode. Cherry blossoms rain fluffy pink snow everywhere. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the daffodils are out. This weekend it was warm enough for me to work in my garden in just a t-shirt.
I mucked about in the garden, soaking up all the Vitamin D I could, absorbing all the happy from the sunshine and the dirt under my fingernails and the new buds of purple garlic sprouting up around my rose bush.
An hour or so later, I came inside and received a series of text messages from one of my best friends, Q, who lives in Cape Town. Cape Town is on fire. Houses are being evacuated, houses are burning to the ground. Q’s sister, a volunteer firefighter, has been pulled from the front lines of the blaze for third degree burns and a knee injury. Scary stuff.
It was a shock of reality in my rose-coloured haze of the day. I was having a good day- a great day even- but my mood evaporated in a second. It was like the sun had gone behind a cloud, but it hadn’t.
It reminded me of a quote I came across a couple weeks back from Samantha Harvey’s novel Dear Thief:
Happiness doesn’t come in the way I expected; not a massing of good things over time, but a succession of small, strange and unowned moments—the sun makes a hot oblong on the bedroom floor and I stand in it with my eyes closed. The coriander germinates in the window box and up comes the seedling. The bled radiators stop knocking at night. Just after the first bar of Coltrane’s ‘Naima’ I’m reminded of ‘Ruby, My Dear’ and at the end of ‘Ruby, My Dear’ I’m reminded suddenly of Nina Simone’s ‘Sinnerman.’ New connections! As if the world’s hands are joined. I spent over half my life waiting for the accumulation of happiness and then I realized that it doesn’t accumulate at all, it just occurs here and there, like snow that falls and never settles. Not the drifts that you and I imagined we would plough ourselves into, but instead gently, opportunistically, holding one’s tongue out to catch the flakes.
And so, I stuck my metaphorical tongue out. I took some time to properly respond to sweet Q and offer my support and concern and good mojo and prayers and everything and anything else I could lend her.
And then… and then I went back outside.
I finished gardening. I let the sun warm my back and pulled the weeds from the potting boxes, therapeutically ripping the gunk from my day. Supporting my dear friend no less, but realizing that if I shoulder the weight of Q’s crisis, I wasn’t doing her or I any favours. I couldn’t stop the fires in Cape Town by worrying about them, I couldn’t heal Q’s sister.
Sometimes, you just have to stick your tongue out and grab the little bits of happy as they fall, you know? It means that when you do need to support someone, you’re a little more buoyant.
The old adage goes, when life gives you lemons… make lemonade. Take the sour and make it sweet. Easier said than done, most of the time.
I took it literally, not only because I got a big bag of lemons on sale last week (!), but also because working in the garden really worked up a powerful thirst.
I have tried a lot of ginger lemonades in my time, but this is my favourite. Not too gingery but with a good kick, not too sweet, with an extra bit of refreshment from the rosemary. The ultimate quench.
(I love rosemary and lemon together, see also: Rosemary Lemon Cornmeal Cake)
Needless to say, the first batch I made, I skipped the bourbon and made it “Nice”- I was thirsty!
(Of course, after the fully re-hydrating, I did sit outside with a bourbon spiked “Naughty” version)
A note on the recipe- I don’t bother peeling my ginger. You can if you want to, I usually just scrub and wash mine thoroughly and then slice it up. If you’re getting good ginger from half-reputable soil, the only reason to really peel it is for texture, and we’re straining the ginger pieces out of the final product here.
|Naughty or Nice Ginger Lemonade|| |
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (5-8 lemons, depending on how juicy they are)
- 1 cup ginger simple syrup (recipe below)
- 2 cups water
- Splash of bourbon (optional)
- Fresh rosemary, for garnish
- Ginger Simple Syrup:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup ginger, sliced into rounds
- To make the simple syrup, bring 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water and the ginger slices to a boil in a medium saucepan. Boil for 2 minutes then remove from heat. Let steep for 30 minutes and then strain out ginger slices.
- In a large carafe, mix together the simple syrup, 2 cups water and fresh lemon juice. Add bourbon, if using. Pour into glasses over ice and garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary.