By Alabel Chapin
Photography by Jenna Noel
One Saturday morning many years ago, I woke up knowing exactly what I wanted to do on that humid summer day. I wanted to make a lemonade stand that included vegetables and flowers from my dad’s garden.
Dad and I worked on the signs and the setup. We hauled our table from the backyard to the front of the house, spread a flowered tablecloth over it and set up baskets of fresh tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, chard, sorrel, arugula, beans, okra and basil and other herbs.
We included my favorite tomatoes: the small, orange Sun Golds that are as sweet as fruit. The dark Cherokee Purples are also delicious, especially with fresh mozzarella, basil and olive oil.
To make the lemonade, I squeezed 10 lemons into a half-gallon pitcher and added some sugar until it tasted about right. Then I filled it with water, stirred it with a wooden spoon and tasted it to make sure it was good. For a special touch, you can put lavender buds to float on the top, or sprigs of mint.
I recruited my brother, Henry, and appointed him “ice man.” He and his friend Ford sat on the cooler and waited to scoop ice into the lemonade glasses for customers. I was so proud to be doing this together without much help from our parents. When Henry and Ford tired of sitting on the cooler, they stood on the street corner and waved wildly to each passing car.
It was perfect, and the neighbors stopped by many times to gather tomatoes and greens for dinner and a cool glass of lemonade for the walk home. I like to see people buying new vegetables that they have not tried before. I also believe that it’s much more appealing to make your own lemonade and pick your own greens than to buy from the store. It tastes much better and the buyers always appreciate it.
Over the last five years, I have grown to appreciate what is at the stand and that I have a garden to get it all from. I have also come to love the process of tying the greens in little bunches with twine, making little flags to stick in the baskets to identify what they contain. The lemonade stand has become kind of an art project, and the money raised is perfect for picking out nice presents for my family during Christmas.
On that first day years ago, as we sat waiting for a customer to arrive, we heard the garbage truck rumbling down the road. We were so delighted when it stopped and each sweaty man hurried over to buy a cup of lemonade. It made us proud to not only be feeding the neighbors, but the hardworking men of our community, too.
Alabel Chapin loves to paint, play the violin, dance, write poetry and swim in ponds. She is a student at the Girls’ School of Austin. She loves her bed, pets and family.