Lance’s July Letter

Friends, July 12, 2013

We believe in global warming down here on the south Texas coast. It’s been hot. We hit or tied record high temperatures for five days in a row last month. Leslie and I always get up early and walk outside on our patio before the sun comes up - and it was 82 degrees with a heat index of 87 on those mornings – before even a hint of daylight.

We’ve backed off those temps a bit this week but we still have highs above the normal range. The lakes picked up a little rain but still sit at 35% of capacity. The farmers are out of luck this year. What crops got planted are now crisp and crispier - cooked. Ranchers need hay for their cattle and there’s little around.

You have to make your peace with the Summer here. And you learn to get out early and get the shopping and chores done as early in the day as you can. Iced coffee for me in the afternoons and I take an extra stash of quarters when I wash Leslie’s van every Sunday - one of my rituals.

I use the “magic wand” car washes where you put quarters in the box and get to blast the van with the wand that has soap and then a powerful rinse. And in the Summer, once the van is clean I keep adding quarters and point the wand with the cold rinse spray up into the air and let it blast me. Ah, cool and fabulous.

The best new spot we’ve found is in Kingsville, about thirty miles south of here. We saw something in the paper about “The Cherry Tree Tea Room” there and drove down on a Saturday morning to find it. Kingsville still has an old downtown built in the 40’s and 50’s that houses small shops and, on one corner, the Tea Room. Inside it was spic and span clean. Tables and chairs painted white with bright red heavy cotton table cloths and white cloth napkins with pewter napkin rings. Very sweet and civil. Sandwiches and salads on the menu you’d find anywhere, but made just like your grandmother. Ah, this is what food can taste like; we both were stunned. It was delicious. The topper was their cherry pie. We split a piece and it was heaven.

They have one main dining room where we ate and then in the back another room, the Tea Room, with tables and chairs for baby showers, birthday parties, and breakfast with Santa for all the young ladies every December.

The women who work there really wanted to be there and serving us and that made the experience even better. The bill was 23 bucks and if I could take Obama to lunch one day, this would be where I would take him. The food, the service and the vibes all make you remember how good something simple can be when made with love and attention.

And I know I heard giggles in the hall just before we left. How many little girls have learned to sit up straight and be a part of the party and laughter there over the years, I wondered? The building is full of sweet memories. And the best part, the beat goes on. Santa has already made his appointment to be there when Christmas lights come on. You know he wouldn’t miss it for the world.

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