Some of the best summertime memories from my childhood involve my sister, our cousin and a gigantic inflatable dolphin we used to take turns “riding the waves” on the beaches of the Florida Gulf Coast. For several years, our family vacationed in Panama City Beach each summer, and I loved those days spent running back and forth between the ocean and the pool, ice cream sandwich in one hand, beach towel in the other.
Today, one of my favorite things to do at the beach is watching young kids play, perhaps because it takes me back to those days when I was one of them. I’ve noticed that kids seem to automatically approach the ocean with total abandonment, screeching and laughing, arms flailing as they run into the waves. At the same time, ocean play is serious business. Young beach-goers will run from water to sand, water to sand, over and over again (to the point of exhaustion) just to build the perfect sandcastle.
Over time, that sense of wonder and play seems to soften a bit; we grow up, launch ourselves into careers and take pride in having it all “figured out.” I think that’s why I love summertime, and particularly summer at the beach, so much. Because it’s a time when we can return to that sense of wonder and forget about how successful or beautiful or powerful we are in the eyes of the world. Even if only for a season, we get the chance to lose ourselves in the wind and the sun, and—twirling in the waves—be seven years old again.
Maybe, just maybe, God gave us the precious months we call summertime to remind us that, at the end of the day, we’re all just a bunch of His kids. Sloppy, imperfect and certainly unruly…but His. We so often call Him “Father,” but forget to give ourselves the freedom to just be his sons and daughters. Maybe summer is our chance; our opportunity to be children who don’t just say a passing “thank you” for the things we’ve been given, but truly, loudly delight in the small, simple gifts from our Father…like ice cream sandwiches and the magic of building a sandcastle.
Until next time,
Grilled peach sundaes with balsamic reduction
It doesn’t get more nostalgic than an ice cream sundae. To me, sundaes are the best kind of summertime dessert—they’re big and cold and messy, and have the power to conjur up childhood memories and brain freezes all at once. Earlier this week, T and I made “grown up” sundaes, complete with grilled peaches and homemade balsamic reduction sauce that I could eat with a spoon. The peaches are smokey and sweet, and the balsamic adds the perfect bit of tanginess.
- 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- Two peaches, halved and pitted
- Two tablespoons canola oil
- Vanilla ice cream
- Granola, for topping
First, make the balsamic reduction sauce: Stir balsamic vinegar and brown sugar together in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to let simmer for 15-20 minutes, until mixture is reduced by half. Remove from heat and set aside (sauce will continue to thicken as it cools).
For the peaches, heat grill to high. Brush the peach halves with canola oil and place on the grill, cut side down. Grill until golden brown and cooked through, about five minutes.
Top peaches with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a drizzle of balsamic reduction and a sprinkle of crunchy granola. Devour quickly to prevent melting!