Wildfires, Monsoons, and Mojitos

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Wildfires, Monsoons, and Mojitos

I work, live, and create in Colorado.  Most people think that means I must live on the top of a mountain somewhere, and it snows year-round.

But Colorado is a diverse place.  I live at “altitude,” but not in the mountains.  Most of Colorado is higher than 3500 feet above sea level.  My town sits at 4,987 feet above sea level.  But the mountains, or at least the start of the foothills, are some 10 miles west of my town, and the highest peaks are 50 miles away or more.  I live in what is considered the “high plains,” but the mountains are pretty much in my back yard.  And I have been here five years, and have yet to see snow earlier than the first weekend of October, or later than Memorial Day.

Okay, so yeah, it can snow here into near-summer.  But like many areas of the country, our climate has its extremes.  When summer finally comes, we bake under a merciless sun.  And that whole thing about thin air and being closer to the sun?  That is all true.  Sunburns can happen in January.  I know, I’ve gotten a sunburn in January.

We’ve had several over-100-degree-days this summer, and I don’t care where you live, whether the air is dry or not, 100 is hot.  HOT. And with hot, dry air, and a blazing sun, and crazy pop-up high-based thunderstorms with lightning, we get fires.  Hot, scorching, mountain-burning fires that go for days.  This year, we have had several fires, and two are still burning madly, gobbling up thousands of acres of pine trees and brush.  Many of us are hoping desperately for an early monsoon season.  Monsoon here is when we get Pacific moisture moving up from the south, mixing with wind from the mountains, which creates intense bursts of rain that raise the humidity but also keep the ground wet.  Wet ground = no more fires.

But in the meantime, we are all looking for ways to stay cool.  Many Coloradans head uphill, into the moutains, where temperatures are 30-40 degrees cooler. That cool air comes with a nice breeze, but a warm sun.  It’s as close to heaven as one can come!  But if I can’t go uphill, then I look for shade.  In a dry climate such as ours, finding a nice tree to lounge under can make all the difference.  Add in a cool, refreshing drink, and suddenly that 100 degrees doesn’t feel so bad. I am blessed to have a shady yard, and pretty flower gardens, so hanging out in my favorite wicker chair in the back yard with a tasty drink in one hand and a great summer read in the other is one of the most relaxing things I can do.  And my favorite drink?  My own personal take on a mojito!

Susabelle’s Perfectly Cool Mojito

  • 10-12 mint leaves
  • 1/2 lime, cut in wedges
  • 4 slices cucumber (about 1/4 inch thick)
  • 1/2 cup club soda
  • 1 1/2 ounces rum (I only use Bacardi Gold)
  • Ice

In a bowl or deep glass, place the mint, limes, and cucumber.  Mash vigorously with the end of a knife handle or wooden spoon to macerate and remove the juices.  Strain this mixture into a glass, being sure to press all those juices into your glass. Add the rum, club soda, and as much ice as you’d like.  Stir well.  Garnish with a lime wedge, cucumber slice, and mint sprig.  Enjoy!

(Mojitos are versatile and can be made with any number of cool summer ingredients. The only requirement is mint, lime, and rum. I’ve used melon – honeydew or watermelon – and berries as well! Experiment!)


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