The evening was crashing down around us. There were seemingly no options that would allow even more than one member of our party to be happy. Most options were going to make most of the group, in fact, unhappy. It was 5 pm, still 90 degrees, and we quarreled in a piece of shade cast by a building across from the restaurant where we were supposed to be eating.
My family was in Door County, WI. It’s a tourist location in Wisconsin, a peninsula with a smattering of small towns featuring waterfront restaurants, boating, cherry picking, knick-knacks, local ingredients, and with the right attitude, it’s a ton of fun. On a hot, hot day in 4th of July traffic, after a day outside… it was not fun.
It’s July in this crazy year 2020. This was our first version of any kind of leaving our house for more than a long drive. I hesitate to even call it a vacation. We were there to visit with my mother in law who lives in Door County year-round. It seemed the closest we were going to get to visiting this fun place while staying safe. We had spent the previous couple of days in various agreed upon states of lounging in the shade, handing off who was tending to the kids, and sharing drinks and food. So far, so good.
Our one agreed upon outing between the 5 adults and 2 kids was that we were going to eat [outside] at this one restaurant. The chef is a family member and obviously none of us had been able to eat there yet this season. 5 pm was the best time because it was going to be the least busy and she could guarantee us a table.
We got there and every table sat under the strong, unrelenting, and unforgiving rays of the sun on a 90-degree day. I worked up a sweat getting out of the car. I worked up a sweat looking at the tables. I worked up a sweat picking up my child. There was no way we could manage a full meal, a meal composed primarily of hot pasta, in that sun.
That’s when all amicability broke down:
We started talking about giving up, going home, eating separately, risking somewhere else where there was no guarantee of shady seating either, of never wanting to see each other again. Faced with complete failure or some modified versions of what our expectations of the night were, we decided to try one other place first. We knew there would be drinks. We knew they would be cold. We just didn’t yet know about the shade. If this failed, we’d order take out from the restaurant: a less fun, less loyal version of our plan, and head back to the house to eat maybe in the one room in the house with a window AC unit.
Because we had two young kids, we took some liberties at the new location. We moved some chairs into a shady spot, set our kids in the middle to play in the rocks, and then something magical happened. Adults #2 and #3 brought out cold drink after cold drink to fit into each of our hands.
I was handed a glass of frośe. A frośe is a frozen glass of rośe wine. To call it a frośe is to embrace the basicness of the beverage. It was pink, partially frozen, incredibly refreshing, and to very obviously exaggerate, it saved the day. At several points, I held the glass up to my face and there was no purer expression of enjoyment aside from drinking it. My own attitude wasn’t actually the linchpin of the evening (I’ve been there, and it sucks), but my faith in recovering the evening was not to be found. I was leaning into the belief that the sun would defeat us. Until I had my frośe.
The others around me had equally refreshing drinks. And then round 2. The tension dissolved. The drinks were drunk (very low ABV, for the record). We laughed, we complained more about the heat, we watched our kids play, we discussed small things, and then we were ready to eat. The dinner was something special also – it was a night our family will remember through the telling, through the pictures, through recalling our food and drinks.
This is just a small, summertime reminder, that when things are looking really, really bad, and like no one will walk away happy from a situation, a cold drink can be just the thing.