Speaking of college, I went back to Iowa a few months ago for my 10 year reunion. Some people gave me a puzzled look when I told them where I was going, but I just smiled to myself and thought, well they don’t get it because they didn’t go to Grinnell!
I think it’s a little hard for others to truly understand the Grinnell experience, but imagine spending four years among just 1200 very smart students from all over the world in a quaint town of 8000 in the middle of nowhere (when we got a McDonald’s the summer after our sophomore year, it was a big deal). Our classes were small, in fact several of mine only had 4-5 people and my biggest had 30, so getting fairly close to your professors was pretty common. Most people studied hard and were committed to making a difference in the world, but also took every opportunity to live life to the fullest. There were no rules, and instead we had self governance, which meant you could do whatever you wanted but were expected to take responsibility for your actions (you know, like real adults). It was a tight community where people looked out for each other and you knew almost everyone. We often had to get creative and invent ways to entertain ourselves since we were fairly isolated. Grinnell inspired my love of costume parties, contests, and practical jokes. Let’s just say it was a bonding experience, and I am so thankful for all the great friends I made during my time there.
So, I was very excited to go back and see the 150 or so of my 400 classmates who came back for the reunion and especially couldn’t wait to be reunited with my good friends, Emily, Emily, and Susie! A lot was the same – the dorms had their distinctive smell and many people seemed like they hadn’t changed a bit, but there were many new buildings, including a beautiful new athletic complex. Some of the highlights included going to Dairy Barn, which beats Dairy Queen any day, and of course wandering around the campus. I got to spend some time catching up with my swimming coach and we ran into our physical chemistry professor in the science center, who remembered all our names – where else would that happen? We spent the majority of our time drinking on Mac Field, which is surrounded by many of the dorms, and is one of the quintessential Grinnell places to hang out.
Here we all are in a lounge of one of the dorms – I think this is my favorite picture, even though I’m blinking, because I somehow felt the need to be the same height as everyone else….yep, I was having a good time! I also loved dancing the night away at Harris, which is where a bunch of parties were held. I made my favorite dancing partner, Susie, do the same dance “move” we perfected in college about 500 times. It was so fun being able to spend time with some of my best friends without having a care in world, and I am really glad I was able to go back!
Anyway, in college we used to mix Absolut vodka with Crystal Light all the time. Yeah, just thinking about that combo makes my stomach turn, what a waste of decent vodka. I decided to whip up some much tastier summer adult beverages this weekend – blueberry watermelon martinis! Like my experience at Grinnell, these can’t be beat!
Blueberry Watermelon Martinis
4 cups cubed watermelon (24 ounces)
2 cups blueberries
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups vodka or gin (or lime seltzer if you’re in the mood for a nonalcoholic drink)
Juice of 1 lime
Place watermelon and blueberries in a food processor and pulse until smooth, about 1 minute. Place fruit puree in a stockpot over high heat and mix in sugar. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low and simmer 2 minutes or until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, puree once more in the food processor, strain, and allow to cool to room temperature, about an hour (I stuck mine in the fridge). Mix in vodka and lime juice, shake with ice in a martini shaker, and serve. Makes 6 martinis.
Nutrition: 275 calories, 0.5g fat, 1.9g fiber, 1.0g protein per martini
Cost: $1.55 per martini