One of my fondest memories from childhood was sipping lemonade on my grandmother’s porch during summer with a cool breeze. She made her lemonade from fresh squeezed lemon juice and simple syrup she created in a kettle on her stove. Her favorite saying was, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” It was a saying that my grandparents lived by. When you hear their story, you will understand.
My grandmother’s house had a huge front porch with a swing hanging on each side and rockers stationed between. It was a front porch built for socializing. My grandfather built that porch himself after returning from the front lines of World War II. In the Army, he spent many months working as an Army field engineer while writing frequent love letters to his betrothed. As he had no way to post the letters, they accumulated in his pocket or in his rucksack until the day he was finally released from his duty. On that day, he headed home to marry his sweetheart.
Imagine his surprise when he knocked on the door to see her and was told that she had married another in his absence. Heartbroken, he had sat down on my great-grandfathers porch and pulled out his stack of letters. He placed the carefully folded letters beside him and hung his head in abject dejection. Exhausted and still wearing his uniform, my grandfather fell asleep on the stoop.
When he woke up, he met the eyes of a tall, gangly young lady whose hands were full of letters and whose eyes were bright with tears. “I’ll marry you,” she said. They were married two weeks later and my great-grandfather deeded the newlywed couple five acres of land on the other side of his apple orchard. My grandmother was the elder sister of the original betrothed and, if you had asked her, she would have told you she took pity on my grandfather. In truth, she had known him for years and the letters told her everything about his heart than she needed to know.
My grandparents were married for 54 years until death separated them. Theirs was a story of unconventional courtship but exceptional devotion. They built the house together just as they built their relationship, piece by piece. When life had handed my grandfather lemons, my grandmother had helped him turn them into lemonade. And, believe me, my grandmother made great lemonade.
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 cup water for syrup
- 1 cup lemon juice (the juice from about 4-6 lemons)
- 2 to 3 cups cold water to dilute
- Make simply syrup by heating water and sugar on the stove until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- While water is heating, juice the lemons.
- Pour juice and simple syrup into a serving pitcher.
- Add 2 to 3 cups cold water and taste.
- Add more cold water if necessary keeping in mind that ice will melt and dilute it further.
- If it is too sweet, add more lemon juice.
- You can reduce the amount of sugar in the next batch . . . and there will be a next batch.