It is HOT! Not a little hot, but Texas-style, sweltering hot. Just by looking outside, you see the heat. Waves are radiating off of the pavement, tree leaves are limp, and our lawn is beginning to look more like dirt than grass. Even now, as I peer out my window, I am saddened by the big oak that is struggling to stay alive as more brown leaves are seen on its mighty limbs than green ones. Cool spots in the grass are nowhere to be found as the dog opts for the luxury of air-conditioning over the heat rays outside. Since we are in the middle of a super-sized drought, everything is a little burnt up. I think, maybe, this heat has gotten to my head. For once again, it has me recollecting a couple things I learned from my Grandma: sweet tea and Moo-Moos.
Sweet tea is a Southern thing. There are a few restaurants here that offer it up and it is nearly as good as my Grandmother’s sweet tea. Nothing cools the heat better than a giant glass filled with ice cubes to the rim and tea poured over the top. You can hear the ice clicking as the tea trickles through the cubes. That first swig is the most refreshing drink that there is. Grandma would make it and keep it in a giant glass pitcher where you could see the deep caramel color beckoning to be drank. The secret, of course, to making wonderful sweet tea is when to add the sugar. Adding packets of sugar to a cold glass of tea is not the proper way to sweeten. It must be part of the process. The sugar is poured into the bottom of the pitcher, a little cool water is added and the warm brew is then slowly added to the pitcher (you don’t want the pitcher to crack). The heat from the tea dissolves the sugar to delightful perfection.
Have you ever watched one of those movies where everyone is on the front porch drinking tea, rocking and fanning themselves? Well, it is true. That is the proper way of Southern tea drinking. It makes no matter that it is 100 degrees outside and there is a perfectly good air-conditioned house on the other side of the door. Ice tea is for the porch and for company. In the winter we serve coffee, in the summer it is iced tea. If you are not fortunate enough to have a front porch, the back porch will do. Rocking chairs or porch swings are preferable, but not mandatory. In fact, my current front porch doesn’t have anything that rocks or swings, but it does contain wonderfully comfortable adirondack chairs and a great view.
As kids, we would drink our ice tea on my Grandmother’s back porch while sitting in her wrought iron chairs with a little rock in them. We would watch the birds in the birdbath and the squirrels steal the birdseed. Grandma’s laundry was usually flapping in the breeze on “the line.” Things were slow. Sometimes, we would talk about stuff. I don’t quite remember what. It couldn’t have been too much; it was too hot for talking.
The heat moves us at a slower pace and the humidity nearly brings us to a halt. Life is slower on the porch. I still sit there every day. I like it best with company, though I enjoy it alone too. Usually the dog is sitting somewhere nearby, hoping for a piece of ice. I watch the birds and squirrels. I listen to all the goings-on around me: crickets, dogs, neighbors working in the yard. You can learn a lot by sitting quietly on the porch watching time go by.
It has been a strange few years. A typical Texas summer gives us triple digit heat in late July and August. Lucky us, the temp has been reaching those fabulous heights in June. Though it is only mid-July, the swimming pools already feel like bath water (not that I am complaining). The humidity has increased too. I can tell because when I walk outside, my glasses fog up. It is because of this heat that I am taking another cue from my grandmother’s wisdom. Moo-moos. Also known as “housedresses”, many of our elders wore them (and still do). They are typically tent-like with horribly unattractive bold or flowered patterns adding to their hideousness. But times have evolved and so has the concept… I do not wear a Moo-Moo, I wear a Ta-Da! I have overcome that stigma. They are the terrific loose sheath dresses. It is almost like wearing a night-gown full-time. Those old southern ladies knew what they were doing! It is a wonderful feeling to not have your clothing sticking too you in this oppressive heat. Bonus, after a meal of too much indulgence, you don’t have to hold your stomach in either! Ha! Yep, it is true – I own several of these “summer dresses.” They are super multi-taskers: pretty enough to wear to church, parties, even poolside. They have made such an impact that my friends and family have swooped into the stores to find duplicate styles.
As I am writing, I glance out of my window thinking it could very well be time for me to take a break to the porch with a glass of tea brimming with ice cubes while wearing my easy breezy ta-da. Maybe, for a bit of summer fun, I will crack open the sprinklers for the kids and dog to run in. Hopefully soon, I will be able to write to you about another wonderful Texas treat: Texas Thunderstorms. Until then, soak in your summer, sit a spell and sip some sweet tea.
Where to sip Sweet Tea in Conroe, Texas
Fashionable Moo Moos