Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lover of the Bayou

Kathy had heard of a distant land – flat and swampy, where the air was thick and hot, and the pace of life slow. Polite conversation over a tall glass of iced tea, or perhaps a mint julep. Spicy food to heat up the body, making the climate less oppressive. All set within miles of still water and primeval trees.

The distance was too far to make travel by ordinary airship impractical, so Kathy gambled on an experimental technology. “Say, what does this button do, I wonder?”

She made it there in one piece, but in need of a restorative mint julep after a long, dry voyage. The swamp and trees were a little eerie.

The manor house was impressive – and inviting.

First you needed excellent bourbon whisky; rye or Scotch would not do at all. Then you put half an inch of sugar in the bottom of the glass and merely dampened it with water. Next, very quickly - and here is the trick in the procedure - you crushed your ice, actually powdered it, preferably in a towel with a wooden mallet, so quickly that it remained dry, and slipping two sprigs of fresh mint against the inside of the glass, you crammed the ice in right to the brim, packing it with your hand. Last you filled the glass, which apparently had no room left for anything else, with bourbon, the older the better, and grated a bit of nutmeg on the top.

The glass immediately frosted and you settled back in your chair for a half an hour of sedate cumulative bliss. Although you stirred the sugar at the bottom, it never all melted, therefore at the end of the half hour there was left a delicious mess of ice and mint and whisky which a small boy was allowed to consume with calm rapture. Probably the anticipation of this phase of a julep was what held me on the outskirts of these meetings rather than the excitement of the discussion, which often I did not understand.

(from William Alexander Percy, Lanterns on the Levee)

Thus restored, Kathy agreed to provide some entertainment for the evening. Who knew her talents ran to the pianoforte?

Afterward, she insisted on posing at the top of the stairs, saying, “Oh Rhett, don’t leave me!” I had no idea what she was talking about.

During a long, hot day, often the best thing to do is nothing.

All good things must end, so Kathy finally dusted herself off and set course for home, dreaming of her own white manor house and about a pound of crayfish. And another julep, of course.

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