Start your morning off right, with turmeric tea…
My summer months were spent in the Catskills, outside of Monticello, New York. My grandpa Abe owned a bungalow colony on Sackett Lake. The lake was not like an Ocean, the way Lake Michigan appears when you visit it’s shores bordering part of Chicago. Sackett Lake is a very do-able lake. I could row around the lake at a lazy pace, in about two hours. Sometimes, I was disappointed to make it around so soon. I had rituals while making it around the lake. I would look for landmarks along the way, checking out all the docks on the water, looking for mountain laurel in bloom growing in areas above the water, stopping off to row among the lilly pads that grew in one corner of the lake, sometimes picking the yellow flowers if they were in bloom, and looking for frogs. Today, I keep a mountain laurel in a large pot, in front of my house, as a reminder. Its cherry pink blossoms still fascinate me. Such an odd shape.
I would row past the firemen’ s beach front, which was across the lake from us to the right, and then on past Camp Roosevelt, looking to see if campers were swimming in the area of their most elaborate dock. There were times in the season that my parents would take us over to Camp Roosevelt by boat, when camp was no longer in session, and we would get to swim off the docks and visit with the camp and lake legend, Chesty, who lived in a cabin on the camp’s waterfront, as he maintained that area for the camp. There were times when I woke up early, before the mist had risen from the lake, and lay on our own dock, peering into the water for sunnies (Sunfish) and watching them swim. Once, I looked up to see Chesty appearing out of the mist, standing in his Indian canoe and paddling past with only one oar. He gave me a curt nod as a hello, in the silence. I don’t know if you have ever seen someone stand while canoeing, but it was awesome. Chesty was known for having rode with Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders back in the day, had a metal plate in his head from fighting in the Spanish-American War, most always wore plaid flannel shirts, and his captain’s hat atop his head. He had rattle snake skins tacked up on the walls of his cabin, and a tanned hide of a black bear, as well.
One of things I liked to do when I was young, and at Sackett Lake was, before my parents were up for the morning, I would visit each of my sets of grandparents in their own bungalows. Grandma Fanny and Grandpa Abe were in a bungalow that was actually attached to our house. Grandma Clara and Grandpa Izzy were in a little bungalow up the hill from my Aunt Gertie and Uncle Julie. There was a tree that grew so close to Clara and Izzy’s bungalow, that it looked as if it was going right through the house.
When I made my early morning visits, I would be served breakfast in each of their houses. Grandma Fanny and Grandpa Abe would make rye toast in a little toaster, and then slather it with salty butter for me. The toaster itself was a fascinating object. It was made out of metal and on side vies, was shaped like an Isosceles triangle. The two sides were hinged at the bottom and would open from the top, out and down. You would insert a slice of bread on each side and then close the sides back up. The bread was toasted by coils inside the appliance. I don’t even remember if there was an on/ off switch, or whether you just plugged it in when you wanted some toast. The electrical wire was coated in cloth, and the whole thing would sometimes malfunction. But, as there was no heat in these summer bungalows, the toaster helped warm our morning souls. The closer one came to September, the colder it became at night and in the mornings. So we would sleep in big down coverlets, and put on layers of sweaters upon waking. After my rye toast, eaten while my grandparents ate theirs along with cups of tea, and me, a glass of milk or hot chocolate, I walked up the hill for a second breakfast with Clara and Izzy. They welcomed me in, I sat at their table, and they served me a soft boiled egg. It would be the first time I had ever used an egg cup. For those of you who don’t know, an egg cup is a cute little thing, the cup part is on a pedestal, almost like the foot of a cake stand, and the cup part holds the egg. I followed their lead and delicately tapped the shell of the upper half of the egg that stood out from the cup, peeling the shell off, bit by bit. I started in with a spoon, eating away the top white portion, exposing the gel like yellow egg sac inside. I would salt and pepper what ever portion of the egg was exposed, break off pieces of bread, maybe toast, and dip them in into the yellow, breaking it open, and sopping up the delicious gooeyness of the yolk.
The thing is, that no matter which of the grandparents’ house I visited, I invariably walked in upon them engaging in their morning ritual, of first, sipping hot water with lemon and maybe a little honey in it. They would slurp this elixir first thing every morning. Fanny and Abe liked to pour off a little into the saucer under the cup and sip from the saucer, as it cooled faster that way, and they would not burn their mouths. They called it a belly wash, adamantly believed that it kept them in good health, and set them up well for the rest of the day. It helped keep, what they referred to as their kishkes, in working order. When they did not have lemon in the house, they would just sip hot water.
You could say that turmeric tea is a distant cousin of my Eastern European grandparents belly wash. This morning I meditated in the garden while the world around me turned greener by the minute. Then I went inside to start my morning right, and made myself a cup of turmeric tea. Here is the song playing inside my head as I sipped it, and contemplated the rest of my day.
I listen to the wind
To the wind of my soul
Where I’ll end up, well, I think
Only God really knows
I’ve sat upon the setting sun
But never, never, never, never
I never wanted water once
No, never, never, never
I listen to my words
But they fall far below
I let my music take me where
My heart wants to go
I swam upon the devil’s lake
But never, never, never, never
I’ll never make the same mistake
No, never, never, never
- 1 Cup Hot, but not boiling, Water
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh Turmeric, or ½ teaspoon dried Tumeric
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 lemon
- Add the hot water into a cup, followed by the honey, turmeric and ginger. Squeeze the juice of one lemon into the cup, and enjoy!