We had one of those late-summer mornings this week, the kind that remind us that
summer won't always stay.  There was a change in the feel of the morning, an
indefinable something in the air that made me think of fall.  It was back to the typical
high-90's by afternoon; in my part of the world, summer weather is usually with us
until October.  But, once in awhile, between now and then, we'll have more of those
somewhat cooler and crisper early mornings that always take us by surprise, the ones
that foreshadow a coming shift in the season.
Whether we pay special attention to them or not - and whether we want them to or
not - the new seasons of our lives will arrive, bringing along their inevitable changes,
their own special joys and their own special sorrows.
I don't know the author of the "Seasons of Life" story on this page, but it's
particularly meaningful to me.  I hope it's meaningful to you, as well.   -- Nancy
The Seasons of Life
There was once a man who had four sons.  He wanted to teach them about the seasons
of life, so he sent them on a mission to look at a pear tree located a great distance from
their home.  Each son went in a different season, the oldest son in winter, the second in
spring, the third in summer and, finally, the youngest in fall.
After all their journeys were complete, the father called them together to describe what
they'd seen.
The first son said that the tree was bent and twisted and bare.  The second son said no,
that it was covered with green buds and full of promise.  The third son disagreed and said
it was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful, it was the most
graceful thing he'd ever seen.  The last son protested that it was nothing like any of these,
that it was filled and drooping with ripe fruit, sweeter than any he'd ever tasted.
The father told his sons that they were each right.   He said that we cannot judge a tree,
or a person, by only one season.  The essence of our lives can only be measured when
viewed in full, when all the seasons are taken into account.
We mustn't judge life by the pain of one difficult season.  If we give up when it's winter,
we'll miss the promise of spring, the beauty of summer and the fulfillment of fall.
                                          -- Author Unknown
The summers of my childhood and, then, my son's childhood and, now, my little grand- daughter's
childhood, wouldn't have been nearly as memorable without regular visits to a
snoball stand.  There's a world of difference between New Orleans-style snoballs and other
kinds of icy treats.  If you've had a snow cone or some similar concoction almost anywhere
except New Orleans and the areas surrounding it, we are not (
not!!) talking about the same
thing.  The first machine designed to shave ice to a paper thin, fluffy consistency was
invented in New Orleans in the 1930's; until then, the ice was shaved by hand.  Snowballs
(usually spelled without the "w" in New Orleans) became popular throughout the country
during the Depression, but, afterward, they gradually faded away, remaining available only in
Baltimore, at the Jersey shore and in New Orleans.  I can't speak to the quality or the cultural
importance of this summer treat in Baltimore or at the Jersey shore, but, in New Orleans,
snoballs are more than simply delicious, they're an institution and a cultural icon.
I don't care where you've been or what you've done, there are few experiences in life that
equal standing in line on a hot summer day, staring in eager anticipation at the bright, colorful
syrup bottles lined up on the shelf of a neighborhood snoball stand, trying to decide which
flavor to choose.  It's said that the seasons in most places are:  spring, summer, fall and winter.
In New Orleans, the seasons are:  Mardi Gras, crawfish, shrimp and snoball.  I wouldn't argue
with that.
When my son was growing up, we would both vow, on our way to the little stand on Harrison
Avenue, that we were going to be adventurous and try something new.  When we finally
reached the window (oh! the sweet smells that greeted us through that open window!), he
would sheepishly say 'chocolate' and I would sheepishly say 'nectar' - each reverting to our
old, tried and true favorites.  (But we'd promise ourselves that
next time we were definitely
going to try something new.)
I'm told that New Orleans-style snoball shops have opened in a few other areas of the country
recently, usually by N.O. transplants who crave the treat themselves.  If there isn't one near
you, I can't get you a snoball, but I can give you a recipe for nectar syrup, which is, also, a
treat limited to the New Orleans area.  And, if there's anything that rivals a nectar snoball, it's
a nectar ice cream soda.   Click on the "Old New Orleans Recipes" link below to go to my page
of recipes, where you'll find a recipe for "Nectar Ice Cream Soda."   Nancy
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Music:  Somewhere Over the Rainbow

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