4th of July … Flashback

Posted on July 02, 2015 by Kate Moynihan | 0 comments
Trouble started exactly at three minutes passed ten when the grandkids, Jackson and Lilly, grew uncontrollably restless waiting for the fireworks extravaganza to begin outside our home. To pass the time we had already played Crazy Eights, Dominos, and their favorite: Center, Left, Right, but even with pennies to win the kids grew antsy, bouncing around the house as if they were spring-loaded.
   Just for fun they started spinning in circles. Instantly they were dizzy and bumping into walls. They leaned into a corner and looked up at me, all woozy. If I didn’t want a lamp or vase broken I knew I had to think of another way to entertain them. My mind spun searching for ideas.
   Luckily, on the kitchen counter, tucked deep in the corner, I spotted a project I had for the younger grandkids that would be coming over later in the week. “Have you ever cracked open a coconut shell?” I asked.
  Jackson and Lilly’s faces wrinkled into frowns. Darn, I knew the kids, being seven and eight, would think they’re too old for such a pre-school activity. But I was out of options.
   Scurrying to the work shop, I gathered tools and then snatched the coconut off the counter. “Come on,” I cried out as I corralled them with my arms and herded them near the outside deck. “This is perfect because were in the right spot for when the fireworks start.”
   I thrust a heavy steel-headed hammer in each kid’s hand. “I used to crack coconuts all the time when I was a kid!” I exclaimed.
   Oh-uh, wrong thing to say. This time I got raised eyebrows and eye rolls.
   I pushed ahead and offered, “Raw coconut is delicious and you can drink the juice! Now give that hammer a good whack!”
   I’m certain it was the word “whack” that got them to join in. Jackson drew back his hammer and gave the coconut a hefty wallop. The hammer bounced off without leaving a mark on the coconut. Lilly clobbered out a two-handed smack. Nothing. They continued taking turns each one whacking with all their might. Still the coconut stayed sealed. I couldn’t have been happier. With each swing the clock ticked forward and the fireworks kick-off grew closer.
  At last Jackson's strike made a small fissure in the coconut. Lilly delivered the final blow on and splitting the coconut wide open. Silky-smooth luscious white coconut clung to the hard craggy brown shell.
   The kids reached for a piece and took a bite. “Yuk!” they cried, spitting out bits of the fibrous shell.       
   It’d been years since I’d cracked a coconut and didn’t remember the coconut clinging to the shell so tightly. No wonder it tasted terrible.
   Not one to give up easily, I googled raw coconut. “Listen to this,” I read off the internet, “if we bake the coconut in the oven for fifteen minutes the coconut meat will pull away from the shell and pop out.”
   I got blank stares. I figured since the whack-a-coconut action was over the kids had lost interest. Just then we heard a loud shrill whistle, followed by a big bang, and then an explosion of color. The fireworks had begun! The kids raced to the deck, nestled into chairs, wrapped themselves in blankets and enjoyed the show.
   Meanwhile, I tossed the two coconut half-shells into the oven. When the timer went off I checked the coconut.The shell still clung to the edges so I cooked it longer.
    Well, forty minutes later the fireworks were done but not the coconut. After another ten minutes, using potholders to handle the too-hot-touch coconut, I was able to pry out the coconut meat.
   The kids took a bite. “It’s sour,” they screeched, puckering their mouths.
   I took a bite. It was tart. “Well, we’ll just toast it,” I declared. At this point I don’t know who was more stubborn, me or the coconut. I guess it was me because I found myself grating coconut and tossing it back in the oven.
   By this time it was after midnight when I finally pulled the toasted coconut from the oven. Jackson dab his fingertip into the roasted flakes and put it on the tip of his tongue. “Not the sweetest treat,” he said.
   “But it’s is the funniest treat,” Lilly exclaimed, gathering up the empty brown coconut half-shells, plopping them to her chest, and swinging her hips, hula dancing style. We broke out laughing. More thunderous than the fireworks!

  I hope you have a fun-filled 4th of July. We’re watching fireworks from the deck again this year, but a coconut is not part of the pre-game line-up. Maybe you’ll want it to be part of yours, though!
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