On the Town

Best birthday gifts: Visits from friends and one beautiful home-grown lemon

Babbie Guscio
Babbie Guscio

My birthday has come and gone, but I have some wonderful memories once again. Sheryl Hill and I have started a tradition of sorts. Sheryl walks or rides her golf cart over to my store on my birthday accompanied by her Boykin spaniel named Ollie.

Ollie is a bit of a handful, so we sit on the steps and talk. Sheryl and I have known each other for years as we both served together on the altar guild at The Church of the Cross. She and I were walking from the church to my store on Sept. 11 when we heard that terrorists had bombed the twin towers in New York. That nightmare still seems like yesterday after all these years.

This tale does not dwell on that tragic day but rather on a happy one for me.

My birthday arrived on a gorgeous day. I opened my store and prepared for Sheryl and Ollie’s visit. The two arrived later in the afternoon, and then a double treat popped in. Kim Killebrew and her mother, Rosemary Miller, arrived as if they too knew it was my day. What a treat that was!

I met Kim about 30 years ago when she was a student teacher with our beloved Jenny Kelly at M.C. Riley School. Jenny and Kim would walk by my store about once a week with all of the little children in tow. When I heard them coming I would go outside to say hello, and all of them would call out, “Morning Miss Babbie!” That always charmed me, of course.

Rosemary is retired and is enjoying the freedom that comes with this phase of her life. She travels quite a bit and loves it. Kim has sold her house in Atlanta and now lives in Charleston, which she loves. Kim grew up on Hilton Head Island, where she has many friends, so she visits often and I get to see her when she is here.

We all sat on my porch talking and laughing about probably not much of anything while hanging on to Ollie, who seemed to have other things on his mind — like running down Calhoun Street. Kim and Rosemary bid farewell to us and were off to meet other friends on the island. Sheryl brought me a birthday present which I had not yet opened, so I did.

Sheryl gave me the most beautiful lemon from her tree. The lemon was so lovely and very big. To me it was like a gorgeous yellow jewel. My lemon trees bit the dust when we had our last freeze, so I was a bit sad about that because I had a hankering to make my own “limoncello.”

Limoncello is a marvelous lemon aperitif that is a favorite after dinner drink in Italy

I took the lemon home and put it on my cake stand so I could look at it and watch it ripen just a bit more. I hated to even think about cutting it because it was so wonderful. Several days later, several people dropped by, and I thought nothing about my dear lemon.

Drinks were brought out, and I had mentioned I had no limes or lemons to garnish the drinks with and went into another room. I sat down by the fire to relax and sip my drink and play with the cat. All of a sudden I heard someone in the other room say, “Here is a lemon.“ Well, I leapt up from my chair. The cat flipped over and took off. It was like a scene in a cartoon.

I, horrified as I was, walked as calmly as possible into the kitchen to see my yellow jewel being carved up into little wedges. My lemon was demolished but lived on through vodka and gin for as long as it could.

Bright and early the next morning, I nipped off to Lowe’s, where I purchased the only lemon tree they had left. Next year, maybe just maybe I’ll once again harvest enough of those beautiful yellow orbs to make limoncello.

If you would like to make your own limoncello, it is quite a simple thing to do. It takes about a month for it to muddle though, so get busy. It is a great cough syrup, too, if there is any left. There are lots of recipes on the internet, so I won’t bore you with one.

Holiday pet stroll

On Thursday, Dec. 20, from 5 to 6 p.m., we are having a light up your dog or yourself fun evening. Nice, well-behaved decorated dogs and people are invited to stroll around for an hour and just have fun. Join us in front of The Store on Calhoun Street for an early evening of Christmas fun.

Merry Christmas to the Stansfield-Foran families. This is a special time for you all, so good wishes and good cheer to each of you!