When I was a child it was impossible for me to conceive of anything better than summer. Other than the obvious reason, NO SCHOOL, summer meant weekends spent at the local pool club with my parents, running through sprinklers, arts and crafts, trips to Grandma Gloria’s beach house on Fire Island, and popsicles. Today it still means sprinklers, arts and crafts, trips to Grandma Gloria’s beach house on Fire Island, and popsicles, but as an adult, I experience each of these differently than I did as a child.
The most profoundly different of these experiences are the trips to Fire Island. My grandmother passed away over four years ago, leaving me with her beautiful summer home. She had impeccable taste and a real sense of style, so her beach home may look like many others on the outside, but certainly was all classy, Upper East Side lady with modern sensibilities on the inside. She maintained it rigorously, keeping it in tip-top shape. She filled it with beautiful objects and had some hard and fast rules about sandy feet, screen doors, and food storage. Like with everything she did, she ran her beach house with a manner that was bossy yet charming. How was I supposed to live up to that and keep her house in order? This amazing house and legacy felt like a burden, not like a blessing.
On top of the pressure to maintain “my grandmother’s house,” it felt like pulling teeth to get my extremely urban kid and anti-sand-and-water husband on the two trains and the ferry we take to get there. As this summer approached, I thought it was time to just let the house go.
Then this summer, something magical happened, my daughter, Gloria, became a real Fire Islander her first weekend out, and I had to bribe her to leave. Gloria experienced the Fire Island magic that I felt as a kid. She spent the entire ferry ride out watching the wake, and feeling the spray on her face. Her tender 3-year old feet spent the weekend bare and she squealed with pleasure each time she got wet or dirty. Her excitement energized me. The “schlepping” out to the beach became an “adventure.” The beach itself became a place of fun and exploration rather than just sand and water, and the house was no longer “my grandmother’s house” but “my house” and even “our house.”
“Our beach house” is the same beach house I have been going to my whole life. My grandmother bought it when my mother was pregnant with me. It is the only home I have consistently spent time in over the course of my entire life. As a kid, I lived through divorces and moves. For me home was where you made it, never one constant spot. Because I do not have access to my childhood homes, I rarely stumble upon favorite childhood objects. I say rarely, as opposed to never, because I sometimes find childhood relics tucked away in the closets and drawers at the beach house.
I have found my favorite cups from which I would drink juice and milk. (They look like retro Pepsi cans although they did not look retro when they were new.) I have found my jacks in a small cup along with a peace sign earring. I have old board games that I rarely played with because I was a somewhat antisocial only-child. One thing I cannot seem to find however, is my beloved Spiderman popsicle molds. They lived at the beach and were used each summer. The handles were shaped like Spiderman’s head, and the plastic mold was stamped with the Spiderman logo. Whenever I was at the beach, my grandmother would fill the molds with Tropicana orange juice and would then place the molds into the freezer. After a few hours, I would be handed a perfectly shaped orange ice pop to cool me down after hours in the sun.
I still love a good orange ice pop on a summer day, although I do not have any popsicle molds at the beach presently. (Where are those Spiderman molds?) I do however have ice pop making means in the city. I could not resist the siren call of the Zoku Quick Pop Maker display at Williams-Sonoma. The signage promised me instant gratification and if the pictures were accurate, I would also be able to make beautiful, gourmet ice pops. Granted these ice pops would not have handles shaped like Spiderman’s head, but they do have pretty patterns in the sticks.
Initially, I made a lovely two-tone strawberry-banana popsicle following recipes from the Zoku blog. Then I looked at other websites but felt either intimidated or underwhelmed by their popsicle recipes. Finally I came home one day with a billion farm fresh blueberries and nectarines. I made Nectarine and Blueberry Popsicles using Martha Stewart’s Nectarine and Strawberry Popsicle recipe as a guide. They were so very tasty. Dare I say, tastier than orange Spiderman pops? I must remember to pick up some ice pop molds, blueberries and nectarines to bring to the beach. This way, when my daughter is 32 and doing whatever the equivalent of blogging will be in 29 years from now, she can sit around on a steamy summer day being sentimental about our beach house and ice pops.
Nectarine & Blueberry Popsicles (adapted from Martha Stewart’s Nectarine and Strawberry Popsicles)
- 1 c blueberries
- 2 nectarines pitted and cut into pieces
- 1/4 c sugar (this amount makes very sweet pops, please adjust to your own taste. I will use less next time or try honey.)
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Press mixture through a fine sieve to remove lumps and seeds. Pour into molds and freeze. If you are using traditional freezing techniques, go play in the sun. If you are using the Zoku Quick Pop Maker, stare the mold expectantly while drooling. Enjoy!
(Makes about 4 popsicles)