The Shade Tree and Grandma’s Iced Tea


The good times were the simple pleasures in Life.

It was summertime and I was at my favorite place on earth, at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house. It was four decades ago, and no one had air conditioning back then. Around 3 p.m., when it was the hottest, the whole town of Blanco rather stopped and people rested in the shade until it was cool enough to work out in the sun again.

At my Grandpa and Grandma’s we sat outside underneath a massive leafy covering of an enormous Box Elder shade tree. We sat in red, shellback, metal lawn chairs. We simply rocked rhythmically, passing the time lazily, taking it easy in the slow-dancing shadows that swathed us beneath the leafy giant.

Grandpa occasionally took the water hose and sprayed water on the tree’s leaves to make the shade cooler. Occasionally, when a breeze came, for just a few seconds, it felt like early fall in that shade.

Grandpa made a round white table underneath the shade tree by welding a metal pipe to the hub of an old iron wagon wheel, then cutting plywood to lie on top. My Grandma Vera took Blanco Water, steeped it with loose tealeaves, sugar, and poured it all into a gallon glass pitcher.

Grandma brought this pitcher to the round table and poured the ice tea into Mason jars filled with jagged-edged, ice-picked, shards of frozen crystal water Grandma always topped off her ice tea with a few fresh mint leaves from her backyard garden.

Grandma was the greatest. She died. It seems like such a long time ago. I can still hear her laugh and recall the little things that she always did to make my life wonderful.

I would do anything to bring her back.

The Thirsty Mason Jar


There is only one place in the whole world where you can get it. And I savored it whenever I visited my grandparents in Blanco, Texas during the summer. It is what I simply called, “Blanco Water,” and the Blanco Municipal Water Supply was processed and purified right out of the Blanco River.

Hands-down, flat-out, Blanco, Texas is the source of the best glass of water that I ever grasped in my sweaty little hands. “Blanco Water,” tastes like it is “alive” with something pure, something clean, and it always quenches the thirst, being natural, full bodied, and wholesome.

As a boy, in the summer I preferred to drink the water right from the tap of my Grandma Vera’s kitchen sink. I would turn on the cold-water and fill an old Mason jar all the way to the rim.

I gulped down the “Blanco Water,” tightfistedly; spilling some of the clear beverage around the sides of my open mouth, feeling the cool streams run pleasantly down my sweaty neck. I finished the rest, lapping it over and behind my tongue, and then slugging it down my gullet.

Even after purification, the Blanco municipal water still has the essence and the taste of the river in it—you can take the water out of the Blanco River, but you cannot take Blanco out of the water.

“Blanco Water,” smells like the rich earth.  Immediately before a heavy summer rainstorm at my Grandpa’s Morris’s farm in kendalia, there was always a first a moist, living breeze that arrived.

This breeze moved just ahead of where the rain shower was going. It had the earthy smell of iron, minerals, and the savor of the plowed-over organic matter’s fertility. “Blanco Water,” rather smells like this summer rainstorm breeze to me.

I do not really know why “Blanco Water,” smells and tastes so good. Maybe it is the moss on the banks of the river, the earthen minerals in the clay, or the limestone bed rock bottom of the river. It might even be the trace of that “5 pound bass that got away,” slowly moseying along, in the cool green shadows of the river.

In August, our whole lot would sit under a giant Box Elder shade tree when got too hot. My Grandma Vera took Blanco Water, steeped it with tealeaves, sugar, and poured it all into a gallon glass pitcher.

Grandma brought this pitcher to the round table that 3 generations sat around lazily in the cool summer shade. She poured the ice tea into Mason jars filled with jagged-edged, ice-picked, shards of frozen crystal water.

Grandma always topped off her ice tea with a few fresh mint leaves from her backyard garden. Grandma Vera was the best. I really miss her. I miss those boyhood days.

That was half a century ago. Yet I can still smell and taste the memories of all of this when I drink a glass of “Blanco Water.”