Summer in the city
The piles of snow have all disappeared. People walk around all pale-armed, looking sideways like a snowstorm might attack them and steal their wallets. I’m starting to break in my feet with flip-flop calluses. It’s finally summer in Boston. But that doesn’t make much of a difference to me, other than a change in footwear and my general attitude from ornery to smiling so much that people move away from me on the subway. Summer in Boston makes me homesick for Michigan lakes with mucky bottoms, the sore shoulders than can only come from waterskiing, and the smell of faux coconut sunscreen. I know the ocean’s right there, but the only ocean I can feasibly get to is the harbor, and the smell reminds me too much of the dumpster behind Legal Sea Foods. So I end up all the more jaded and nostalgic.
In the summer I gravitate toward water like I’m parched. I spend a lot of time sitting next to the dirty-watered pond in the public garden and watch the swan boats drift back and forth. If I squint my eyes, I can pretend they’re speedboats and tubers. Sometimes I’ll sit by the Charles River, put my feet in the cold water, and hope my skin doesn’t dissolve. I’m not a big beer drinker but sitting there on the dock’s edge, I crave a cold one. But it still doesn’t feel quite like summer.
The other day, someone posted a link on the lovely Ana Holguin’s facebook wall with homemade popsicle recipes, and my world was rocked. It had never occurred to me to make popsicles that were more than just frozen juice. My mom and I used to pour orange or strawberry juice into ice cube trays and try to eat them off lopsided sticks. They were underwhelming. But these recipes were not fucking around. I went out and bought these popsicle molds the next day.
I’d planned on making the mojito pops, but they needed to harden for more than 12 hours. I was headed out of town the next day, so that meant I’d have to eat one at 9 a.m. or not for the next two days. Neither option was acceptable, so instead I chose the Strawberry Yogurt pops. They were simple—strawberries, sugar, a little lemon juice, and plain Greek yogurt. First, I cooked the strawberries in a little sugar and water until they were soft.
Then, I put the strawberries in the blender with a little lemon juice. The recipe warned against blending them too much, so I only pulsed the blender a few times. I had to put the puree in the freezer to get it to cool down, which seemed cruel since I’d already have to wait for them to turn into popsicles. After an excruciating twenty minutes, I took the sort-of-cool puree out of the freezer and mixed the strawberries with a container of plain Greek yogurt.
Into the molds went the mix. I put the lid on and put a popsicle stick into each slot. While I waited, I went to sit on a dock on the river and pretend I had a beer until the popsicles were ready. Later, I took the pops out and let them sit so that they would come out. I waited unpatiently for ten minutes, then started pulling. They did not want to come out. What had I done to them to make them so resistant? I was the worst popsicle mom ever. I hadn’t left enough of the sticks out and it was hard to get a grip. But finally, one let go.
I’d worried that it would either be too sugary or too tart, but the pop was perfectly balanced between sweet and tart. Because I hadn’t pureed the strawberries completely, the pops had a nice texture while avoiding that slimy chunkiness of strawberry jam (which, to my mind, is something that should definitely be avoided). The Greek yogurt made the pop less icy and more creamy. I took the pop out to sit on my front porch. Even at ten in the evening, it was still 80 degrees. It wasn’t a beer next to my childhood lake, but with a red-stained popsicle stick, I felt a little closer to summer. And maybe a little patriotic.