Plans for the stand began weeks before school let out. He saw the potential for profit enabling him to buy yet another lightsaber while we saw the opportunity to teach hard work, beginning business skills and a way for us to drink cup after cup of tart lemonade this summer.
The moment Baron (6) came up with the brilliant idea of building the stand on his wagon, making it mobile, everything else quickly fell into place. Gabe set out to work getting a few moments of help from the boys in between sword fights, while I perfected the recipe and kept little fingers away from sharp saws. Covered in plastic ponchos Baron, Roman (4) and I painted the stand a pristine white with lemon (of course) yellow stripes stretching the width.
I stood back to observe the scene and set its details deep in my memory. A blonde head of hair covered in white paint as he took his job of painting the inside of the stand (a section virtually unseen by anyone) very seriously. He refused to stop until every inch was coated in a thick layer of paint – including himself. Baron directed us and gave tips on painting techniques, pridefully beaming as we inched our way closer to opening day. The grass, now covered in a layer of paint became cool and damp as the gentle sun made way for evening. Carrying our tired and chilled bodies inside we warmed up with hot chocolate while yet dreaming of our lemonade business.
So far we’ve only opened one day as the rains have kept us inside and leave very few pining for the refreshing chill of lemonade but it was a successful first day. As the first customer approached the stand Baron quickly tucked in his shirt to appear a bit more professional and promptly set out to muddle a few cherries into their cup. Timidly avoiding eye contact he thanked them and proudly took their money while handing them their cup. With the first customers just steps away he was already eager for the next.
Roman helped too, although we are still working on his understanding that not every cup of lemonade is for him. A lesson we realized necessary as he took a drink of a customer’s before handing it to her. We made her a fresh cup while laughing at his sweet misunderstanding. Unlike his brother, he’s not as motivated by the money but would just rather sit and drink lemonade all day. I couldn’t love them more.
There have been only a few days that demand the cooling effects of lemonade but we have had a taste of what the sunny days of summer look like for us now as lemonade stand owners. And it’s as pleasant as the lemonade itself – not too sweet, tart but not painfully so and softly piney and herbal – a far cry from the Country Time powdered concoction I sold at my childhood stand.
It feels a momentous thing, this lemonade stand. One that evokes memories of my childhood while sealing in new memories for both us and the kids. It’s a small project with great reward – growth as a family, connectedness with our community, learning to serve, pushing oneself out of our comforts and a near endless supply of lemonade.
Honey and lemons are a natural pairing which is why my version uses honey in the simple syrup. As a result less sugar is needed and it gives the lemonade a herbal sweetness that sets it apart and leaves customers returning again and again.
makes about 2 ½ quarts
½ cup honey (use a light flavored honey such as clover)
½ cup sugar
2 cups water
3 sprigs rosemary
2 cups fresh lemon juice
about 5 cups water (more or less depending on desired sweetness and tang)
Rainier cherries (or whatever variety you have on hand)
In a small saucepan combine the honey, sugar and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil then turn off the heat. Give this mixture a quick stir to ensure all the sugar has dissolved then add the rosemary. Let steep until cool.
Meanwhile juice enough lemons to produce 2 cups of lemon juice. I like a bit of pulp in my lemonade so I strain the juice then add back a bit of pulp.
When the syrup is cool combine it with the lemon juice in a pitcher. Add in 5 cups water (you can start with 4 then add more if needed. I like my lemonade quite tart so you may even want to add up to 6 cups). Taste and adjust to your liking.
If serving at a lemonade stand muddle two pitted rainier cherries in each cup before pouring over ice. If not you can muddle a cup or so of cherries into a pitcher then add the lemonade. The cherries don’t give off much flavor to the lemonade but the lemonade gives great flavor to the cherries making them a wonderful reward for finishing an incredibly refreshing cup of lemonade.