Monday, February 7, 2011

Hammered Sugar

I have never been much of a morning person.  When I was younger, my family used to draw straws to see who would get the nerve-wracking task of waking me up.  Reportedly, I have been known to knock coffee out of my mother’s hand and connect my foot with my sister’s midsection.  Of course I don’t believe a word of it.  
Now that I am older, and presumably wiser, I have discovered the miracle of morning coffee.  Every morning, I make my groggy unsteady trek from my bedroom to the coffee pot.  My family knows to give me a wide berth until the first cup is poured and I have consumed half of it.  
This particular morning, my husband entered the kitchen and observed me holding a bag of sugar in one hand and a hammer in the other.  His curious look prompted me to offer an explanation.  “In case you’re wondering, I’m hammering the sugar.”  I anticipated a response; however he ambled silently to his place at the breakfast table and soon became engrossed in the morning paper.    I went outside to the porch where I proceeded to hammer the sugar.  I wonder if the expression “pound salt” came from some kind of similar ritual. 
While I was pounding the sugar, my five-year-old daughter, Paola had perched herself at the breakfast table and was happily munching on her Captain Crunch cereal.  I came back into the kitchen with my sugar and hammer in hand and made a bee-line to my coffee cup.  I poured the coffee, pulled two lumps of sugar out of the bag, plopped them in the cup and added milk.  Finally, I was able to take my first sip of morning coffee.  As I lifted the cup to my lips, I began to feel almost human.  I smiled to myself as I thought about pounding sugar and other things we Floridians take in stride.  
Living in Florida, our sugar resides in our refrigerator because the entire package would be consumed by ants otherwise.  Refrigerated sugar becomes a “block” of sugar within a short period of time.  Hammered sugar is right up there with the “fire ant” dance, “cotton candy” drivers, the “sting-ray” shuffle, “waterfront” property and the “gator” run.  
The fire ant dance is a very quick spirited dance characterized by an individual stomping both feet simultaneously while disrobing and slapping clothing on the ground.  This dance is usually followed by a mad dash to the nearest source of water.  Often, the dance culminates with the individual plunging headfirst into the water.  
Cotton candy drivers are drivers whose heads have a cotton candy appearance because a white/blue puff of hair is all that can been seen over the driver’s seat.  These drivers are often characterized by slow movement in the left lane and quick erratic changes in direction without warning.  
The sting-ray shuffle, like the fire ant dance, has been handed down through generations of Floridians.  It is a shuffling walk that is required whenever one enters a body of water at the beach.  The sting-ray shuffle is not required, however, when one enters thigh-high water in the front yard.  Waterfront property is something all Floridians own during the rainy season.  Stingrays only exist in the gulf or the ocean.  Alligators, on the other hand, are not as selective.  There is no alligator shuffle – gators require the zig-zag run.  
As visions of my fellow Floridians danced through my head I thought, “Oh the things we put up with to live in paradise!”  I meandered over to the table and gave Paola a quick kiss on her cheek.  “Mommy” she asked as I sat down at the table, “can I have some hammered sugar on my cereal?’