August 30, 2008

Remembering growing up...

I wrote this post only weeks before this skit aired on SNL. Now I read this and think...that's really hysterical. The SNL sketch is pretty close to what I saw that night. So read on, and then watch the clip for a good chuckle.
"I'm gonna go watch the football game." That's how it usually starts. This football season started out a little bit on the rough side...And so the first U.T. game of the season, I stayed home while Ryan made his way to a local Tex-Mex place to watch it on PPV. We'd just watched some inspirational cooking shows on PBS, and Ryan left the TV on when he walked out the door.

I'd been organizing our plethora of untouched Greenling produce. Sadly, we hadn't been utilizing our deliveries very well; we have a lot of rotten eggplant and a few too-old squash...but plenty of onions and potatoes that keep well. In this week's box, we got a lot of tomatoes and the last of the summer cucumbers.

Wanting something cool and light, I sliced a few of the cukes and tomatoes, grabbed the vinegar, and whipped up my mother's best cucumber salad recipe. The salad felt perfect for the afternoon late-summer rain. And then I heard it; like a big tidal wave, a sense of giddy nostalgia crashed upon me.

The first few notes of the Lawrence Welk Show played out on the tele, and my childhood came rushing back. This seems to happen a lot more frequently when I'm reaching into a box full of local produce; I grew up on a farm, and we had a little section of one of the fields set aside for growing vegetables. Every summer, my grandparents would have us picking veggies from the garden, and then we'd spend Saturday evenings over at my grandparents' eating fresh vegetables and watching Lawrence Welk and his brightly-suited orchestra.

My grandfather had his own big band--The Gilbert Kautz Orchestra--and he'd delight us with his trumpet playing in the afternoons...I loved to listen to him practice in the garage. Our house was about a quarter-mile from theirs, and in the summer evenings when the wind was right, we'd hear Papa playing in our backyard. If the wind came from the other direction, we'd hear the Tejano music playing down the hill.

Then, when Papa turned on LW, he'd dance with my sister and I in their living room. I remember it so well: the brown shag carpet, the squeaky faux-leather couch, the recliners, and the tiny orange chair that we loved to sit on.

My grandmother would sit with my little brother, calling him Schatze. I loved those summer nights and tonight, I'm reminded so vividly of them that I'm brought to tears.

Of course, now I can appreciate the cheesiness of the LW show. Tonight's particular episode aired in 1985, and right now they're gracing my ears with one of Englebert Humperdink's big hits--in English and Spanish. Something about Le bicicle de Versaille... or something like that. "Carry us through the sky, le bicicle de Versaille..."

And now I come full circle to the present: Ryan and I spent a lot of the day biking around our neighborhood side by side. Funny how that works.

So forgive me for the personal divergence, but of course I couldn't pass up something that means so much to me. My family will appreciate it. :)

Now excuse me...there's a rousing accordion duet and I really don't want to miss the action.

OH--and if you want the Kautz cucumber salad recipe...

2 cucumbers, sliced
2-3 fleshy garden tomatoes, sliced, OR 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
A good splash/pour of white vinegar
Scant 1 teaspoon sugar
Scant 1 teaspoon salt
A good sprinkle of black pepper

Combine them all in a bowl...and mix well. This salad is best served icy-cold and the flavors taste even better the next day!

By this time, I want to take up tap dancing. Not kidding. THANK YOU LAWRENCE WELK!


Anonymous said...

Okay, so...I appreciate this in MORE than one way!

A) It brought me to tears thinking about Papa dancing with us when LW would come on...

B) I've been trying to get mom to remember that dang recipe forever and she can't ever tell me!!!

C) I really really miss those days. And I get the same feeling when the cool breeze blows in when spring first takes me back to mom's house and the simple smell of the farm (is that weird?). It all brings me home!