Summertime Dreaming in the Middle of Winter

I love winter. Truly, I do. The snow is incredibly beautiful when it falls in those huge snowflakes we’re all so familiar with in West Michigan. I love how it glistens when the sun hits it just right. The crisp air is refreshing and invigorating.

Winter is a fabulous time to be in Michigan.

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But Seriously…it’s cold out there, Y’all.

Stinking cold. I’m not one to get cold often, but yesterday I just COULD NOT get warm. As the word “warm” popped into my head, so did thoughts of summertime.

Now, I’m not wishing away winter or spring. I’ve just merely started planning ahead as I envision how my summer will (hopefully) unfold: a little vacation or two, road trips, going to the beach, and bonfires with the people I love.

Once I started thinking about summer, however, my thoughts drifted and before I knew it, my mind had traveled on a long and winding bunny trail to my trip to Grenada in 2013.

The Back Story

One of my very best friends, Cat Alford, lived in Grenada for a couple of years with her husband Jon while he was in medical school there. A few months before graduation and their subsequent move back to the U.S., I buzzed down there for a few days to visit. Not long after I arrived, I was hooked.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, Grenada is a tiny island in the West Indies just north of South America. Just like Canada, Grenada is a Commonwealth realm of Britain and is called the “Island of Spice” (for very good reason). It leads the world in the production of several spices – ginger, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg to name a few. Their coffee and chocolate are simply divine. Their beaches are stunningly gorgeous and crowd free. With the exception of a few, the people are incredibly kind and welcoming.

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It took me almost 20 hours to get there from Michigan and was by far the furthest I’d ever traveled. Traveling that far by myself certainly was stressful, but after a good cry and a phone call with my mom in the Miami airport during my 3-hour layover, I was ready to take off for the last leg of my trip and reunite with my bestie in her island home. I’d do it again in a heartbeat and frankly, I fully intend to do so soon.

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The colors.  I thought I’d seen the broad spectrum of colors that blue, turquoise and green can travel before I visited Grenada, but I could not have been more wrong. I was rendered speechless (a rare feat for me) the first time Cat took me to a beach not far from her’s and Jon’s apartment. All I could do was stare. The ocean was a perfect example of ombre: dark blue at it’s deepest, aquamarine in the middle and bright turquoise at the beach.

These colors combined with the bright coral roofs of the homes that dot the mountainsides and crowd the small cities are stunning in their contrast. The waterfall we hiked to one day was buried in a lush green rainforest that calmly beckoned anyone who came by for a visit.

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The scents and smells. Like I mentioned before, it’s called the Island of Spice for good reason: the air smells of spices. I thought I was imagining it, but it’s an intoxicating combination of the ocean, the sand, the surrounding trees, the frequent rain and the spices. Combined with the humidity in the air, it’s an intriguing and invigorating combination.

The locals. I was extremely blessed in this trip in that I was able to visit friends who lived in the place where I was vacationing. Staying with “locals” like that allowed me to see a side of Grenada that people who stay at the resorts don’t see.

For example, Cat and I, along with some friends of her’s, hiked to a phenomenal waterfall in the mountains above St. George’s. On the way back to our cars, we stopped off at a smaller waterfall where we proceeded to spend a good part of the afternoon sliding down it and swimming in the surrounding freshwater pool.

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Two of my favorite Grenadians, however, were Jon and Cat’s landlords. Mr. Ray and his wife were some of the kindest and most thoughtful people I’ve encountered and could not have been more welcoming. I had the pleasure of sampling Mr. Ray’s fresh fruit juice made from the fruit trees growing in his backyard. Throughout their time there, he’d bring a pitcher of juice over for Cat and Jon to enjoy a couple of days every week.

The kids. My other favorite Grenadians were the kids we encountered at the waterfall where we swam for the afternoon. Although I cannot remember their names, I’ll always remember these sweet little boys who joined our swimming party. We hadn’t been there long when about 7 boys between the ages of 6 and 10 showed up. When it was my turn to take my first ride down the waterfall, one of the boys noticed I was nervous. He gently took my hand and walked with me up the path to the top, reassuring me with encouraging words in his lilting Grenadian accent.

Honestly, that little kid stole my heart right there.

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The food…and poolside cocktails. During my time there, Cat and I spent a lot of time at the University Club pool. The saltwater pool is located on a small bay surrounded by palm trees whose leaves rustle in a soothing manner whenever a slight breeze wanders through.

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The pool house has a small bar/grill inside with the best burgers and Pina Coladas on the planet. For a couple of days, our agenda looked like this: get up, have breakfast, go the pool, sit at the pool, swim, let the hot sun’s warmth soak into our bones, have a couple cocktails, eat phenomenal burgers, and go home only when the sun began to set.

It was glorious.

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Fast forward to today: Naturally, I haven’t forgotten those fabulous Grenadian Pina Coladas. As soon as my thoughts drifted to warm weather and Grenada, I was suddenly inspired to try my hand at making one.

The following recipe is one I just adapted from Google where I tossed in some pineapple for extra texture and flavor. Although it doesn’t come close to the Grenadian version, this one hits the spot and reminds me of warm Grenadian afternoons – poolside.

The ingredients:

4 parts (oz) pineapple juice

1 part (oz) coconut milk or cream

1 part (oz) White rum

1/8 cup pineapple

A handful of ice

Directions: In a blender, combine all ingredients until frothy, frosty and smooth. Serve in a chilled glass and garnish with slices of pineapple. Enjoy!

Two pina coladas

Although I’m enjoying winter for all it’s worth, dreaming of warm, sunny West Indian beaches while sipping a Pina Colada offers a nice interlude on those winter days that send a chill straight to my bones. Hopefully you’re able to find your own warm interlude this winter.

Happy winter and warm summer dreaming!

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