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 | By Michelle DiFranco

Good-Cheer Smoothie

A refreshing neighborly gesture

One hot summer day, my husband David came into the house with an ice-cold smoothie he had picked up on the way home. He placed it on the counter and went downstairs to find a tool. I gazed at the smoothie. It gazed back. It taunted me and tempted me. So I took a sip. In a word, it was perfect. And in a minute it was gone.

But as I set down the now- empty cup and gazed out our kitchen window, I noticed our elderly neighbor, Emily, sitting on her porch in the sweltering heat, fanning herself with a newspaper. It was common for her to sit and watch passersby and hope for a neighbor to strike up a conversation. She lived alone. However, I knew she wouldn’t be getting many passersby that day, thanks to the heat.

I suddenly felt both pity and guilt. I bet she would have loved some of that smoothie. But then it hit me; I could make her one! I quickly gathered all the ingredients I could: a banana, frozen berries, yogurt and a bit of orange juice and honey. I threw all of the ingredients into the blender and pureed them. I removed the lid and filled a large glass with the pink concoction. I walked out the door and headed straight toward Emily. I truly felt I had made her day by such a simple gesture as giving her a smoothie and chatting for a little while. I can also honestly say that I think I got more out of making her happy than she got out of the friendly gesture and conversation.

As I was happily returning to my house, my husband stepped outside with a perplexed look on his face and his empty smoothie cup. “What happened to my drink?” he asked. Before I could answer, Emily, from across the street, lifted her glass up in the air as if to make a toast and shouted, “Thank you for the smoothie, David.” I didn’t want to ruin the sense of contentment he must have felt at that moment for making Emily so happy, so I just stayed quiet. A little charity is good for him, too.

The good-cheer smoothie:

• 1 banana (cut up)

• 2 cups frozen mixed berries

• 1 cup vanilla or berry yogurt

• 2-3 tablespoons orange juice (for slight tartness)

• 1 teaspoon honey

Directions: Throw wet ingredients into the blender first (OJ, yogurt and honey) and blend for 5 seconds.

Add banana and half of the frozen mixed berries and blend for another 5 seconds. Add remaining frozen berries and blend until smooth.

Give to an elderly or homebound neighbor who needs some cheering up on a hot summer day. Double the recipe so you can try it for yourself!