Fire in the Hills:Pimm’s Cup

September 8, 2010

I’d never heard of a Pimm’s Cup cocktail until this year.  Maybe because the Pimm’s Cup is the official cocktail of Wimbledon, and I don’t do tennis.

Confession: I’d rather be drawn and quartered than watch tennis on the telly. Yes, even if Roddick or Rafe is steaming up the court. I just find it kind of a snoozer.

Maybe it’s because I don’t actually play tennis? I tried to learn–I did. Mama signed me up for tennis one summer, and after a few lessons, the tennis instructor suggested that I join the swim team. Apparently, you need some coordination to succeed at tennis, and I don’t have any. Hey, at least he was honest.

I didn’t know tennis had an official cocktail?  The only sport I know with an official cocktail is horse racing. I love the horses. Alas, I don’t feel the same about the Mint Julep. Too sweet for me, dudes.  I was suspicious of the Pimm’s Cup, but I tried one this summer and was hooked. These suckers are refreshing! In fact, I brought a pitcher of them to a neighborhood pool party and within a half hour, people were berating me for not bringing at least three pitchers of the stuff. Forget the lemonade stand; next year, I’m setting up a Pimm’s Cup stand in my neighborhood. I’ll be richer than a Kardashian sister by September.

Since they were so popular at an August pool party, I decided to make them again for a little Labor Day gathering this past weekend. The mercury was going to be in the summer-ish range, so I thought a pitcher of Pimm’s would suit nicely.

I was humming in the kitchen, happily slicing lemons and washing sprigs of mint, Debbie Harry (my pre-party diva of choice) rockin’ in the background, when the phone rang.

The call was coming from my husband’s cellphone, which was a bit odd, since the dude was on a jog. I don’t know about any of you, but I can’t talk and jog at the same time, let alone dial. I picked up, only to hear a panicked, “What the Hell is on fire?”

“Fire?” I said. Stupidly, my first instinct was to scan the kitchen…as if the man was gonna take a jog around the house and peek in a window?

“Look outside!” he panted. “There’s a huge cloud of black smoke and it’s blowing our way!”

I raised the blinds in the kitchen and sure enough, he wasn’t a-lyin’.

I do believe I uttered a few choice expletives. Still, like a moron, I just stood there, gawking.

“Move! Go find out where it’s coming from!” my husband said, and with that, I ran to the computer. Well, okay, first I stopped in the bathroom because I seriously thought I was going to pee myself.

By this time, Awesome Stepkid R. had rattled into the vicinity, video game halted. Hearing swearing like that will do that to a kid. While I searched on the computer, he ran upstairs and said, “You can really see it from the balcony. I think it’s coming from Boulder?”

Smart kid.

The fire was, indeed, coming from Boulder. Specifically, the 4 Mile Canyon area. And the reason the smoke was so heavy and so black was because it was Hella windy and it’s been so dry here that everything is parched. Fire danger has been in the red.  This was not good news. Especially when we learned that the fire quickly (almost immediately) spread in all directions, and it was hauling ass. In conditions like that, for residents of Boulder County, it could be anyone’s game.

We spent some tense hours, but as we paced and tweeted and turned on the sprinklers and decided that no, we weren’t going to cancel the cookout (the damn fire was still going to burn, no matter what company we kept), we noticed a shift. The darkest part of the cloud was shifting in a new direction. And while we were relieved, we also knew that for others, this was worrisome news. This is Colorado. Things change on a dime.

View from our balcony as winds change direction yet again

As our sky turned from gray-black to a strange orange color, we wondered what was in store. Ultimately, the flames headed dangerously close to my friend Jen. Luckily, she’s safe and didn’t have to evacuate, but when a friend tweets that she’s making a list of things too precious to leave if she needs to flee, it stops you cold. Well, it almost stopped us. We watched the sky with a few friends, worried about people we know and love and tossed a few glasses back. At the time, we totally justified Pimm’s Cups as medicinal fortification, and I doubt many would argue with us.

Spooky sun

Pimm’s Cup

serves 1 (can easily be doubled, tripled, quadrupled or pitcher-fied)

1 1/2 ounces Pimm’s #1 liqueur*

Ginger ale or lemon-lime soda

Garnishes: lemon slices, cucumber slices, mint sprigs (cucumber/mint is optional but you need the lemon)

Fill a tall glass halfway with ice. Add Pimm’s. Top off with ginger ale or lemon-lime soda. Add desired garnishes. Stir and enjoy. Or justify as medicine.

*The main component of the Pimm’s cup is a liqueur from Britain called Pimm’s #1. I’d never heard of it, but I found it at my neighborhood liquor store, in the section where you’ll find the Grand Marnier.

As I write this, rain is falling in the 4 Mile Canyon area, which is truly a blessing. Still, we’re far from out of the woods.  Well over 6000 acres have been destroyed and the fire’s still blazing, with dry and windy weather forecast for the next couple of days.  We’re hoping for some kind of containment soon, although authorities say that it may take days. My thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost so much, and with the brave individuals out fighting this fire.  Thank you, sweet readers, for all of the emails, IM’s, tweets and phone calls. We’re keepin’ on keepin’ on.

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