Kate

Root Beer

You know when you’re in the throws of an ordinary day and then something stops you in your tracks? Not necessarily that you’ve been operating on auto-pilot and are unaware, but something happens that seems just a little more extraordinary and you realize it. You soak it in. You appreciate it and the circumstances that have led to that moment.

Maybe you’re a stay at home mom and the kid(s) have been just a little more needy than usual. It is towards the end of summer after all. Maybe they’re grabbing at you and calling your name for the trillionth time or maybe they’re fighting with each other and then all of a sudden, they blurt out something outrageous. Something silly. Something that makes you question whether you should burst into tears or burst into a fit of laughter. And it just catches you so off guard that you realize the day you’ve been trudging through really is kind of fantastic despite the messiness of it?

Or maybe you’re a working gal like me. And work…is work. Sometimes you get bogged down in the to do lists and meeting deadlines and goals. I love my job. From the very bottom of my heart, I mean that. Working with seniors is such a joy. But, as with any job, there are bound to be trials and where there is growth, there are sometimes growing pains. I’m not somebody who ordinarily eats their feelings, but let’s just say I’ve consumed my fair share of ice cream this summer. I’ve dubbed 2017 as the year of change…both personal and professional. (Teaser…more on the personal to come!) Thanks to some of those changes, I’ve found myself being able to step out of my management role and into my implementer/facilitator role more.

Today I had the privilege of providing my residents with Root Beer Floats.

Our residents have been a little lack luster in their group participation but over zealous with their gratefulness when they receive a one to one visit.

So I stood at my root beer float cart, dutifully preparing the afternoon treats all the while trying not to vomit because I HATE root beer. I probably should have bolded the word hate, that’s how much I can’t handle it. Even the smell. Just…yuck. My moment of gratefulness standing there amounted to nothing more than appreciating that I wouldn’t be tempted to partake in the treat.

One by one, the story retold itself. Offer root beer float…most residents either accept with genuine thanks and delight or gag at the mention of root beer (my kindred spirits). Exchange pleasantries. Make another one. Repeat.

Here’s where ordinary meets extraordinary.

I walk into a residents room and said “Would you like a root beer float?”

“No, honey”, she says. “My brother and I used to make root beer, actually. We’d take a big silver bucket…used only for making root beer and we’d add water, root beer extract, a little bit of sugar…and one other ingredient.  Shoot, what was it?  We needed it to provide the bubbles…oh yes, yeast. And we’d stir it up. Then, we’d bottle it.  In re-used glass beer bottles.  My parents helped with that part. You know, we were so tickled because we had found a bottle re-sealer at the local hardware store. So we’d pour just the right amount into the bottle, leaving some room for air and we’d take that re-capper and pinch the lids on just so. We could get about 18 bottles out of a batch. Then we had to put the bottles in the pantry for about 7 days. Yes, a week, to let the yeast really work. And the waiting, the waiting was so hard, because we wanted that delicious drink so, so bad, ya know?  But on the 7th day, we could transfer a few bottles to the fridge. Occasionally, we’d come home and our mother would open up the pantry and some of the bottles would have exploded and there’d be root beer all over the ceiling!!!! Mom was mad at the mess, my brother and I were sad to lose a root beer. It was her idea we make it after all, so she couldn’t be but so mad. It was summer time and you know what they say about idle hands, so mother always insisted we make root beer. But we were popular with our friends, because after a game of tennis, we’d invite them all over for a root beer. That was such a treat. Really. It was the depression. We didn’t have a lot of drink choices. Not like how you can get at the store now. Sure, we could go down to the drug store and get a coke, but those root beers were special. We were the only ones who were making our own root beer. Then, guess what happened? I met my husband. He was from one part of the state and I was from another and I went to visit his parents’ house before we got married and I walked in and immediately noticed a stain on their kitchen ceiling. And do you know what he said??? He said, ‘Oh, that’s from when one of my home made root beers exploded!’.  Honey, can you believe he made his own root beer, too???!!! But he let his sit on the counter in the kitchen. So, you know what we did? We kept that silver bucket in our attic for years thinking some day we’d get around to making root beer together. I wish I knew where that bucket got to now. Since then, I’ve never been able to find a root beer that tasted as delicious as ours, so thank you for offering dear, but I don’t think I’d like one”.

So, I stood there. Soaking in her story. Realizing the significance of her having an opportunity to share her root beer story.  And I’m simultaneously trying to wrap my head around the fact that you can make your own root beer and absorb her story because I do not want to forget it.

No, but seriously, did you know you could make your own root beer?  Kinda makes me wish I liked root beer. Now I’m on a mission to make it with my residents.

So, here’s to the simple moments that unexpectedly become the great ones. Goodness knows we need all of them we can get right now.

If you’re really interested in attempting to make your own root beer, here’s a link to two different ways to try. One involves yeast, bottling and waiting. The other involves dry ice and immediate consumption. Hires Homemade Root Beer Recipe

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Cheers!

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