There were 83,000 people at Auburn’s A-day this year. 83,000 people. I’m willing to bet that there are regular season games that have had less attendance than that. But we were all there because of the trees (because really, scrimmage games are not that exciting–at least to me). It was a bittersweet day saying goodbye to the trees, but really more sweet than bitter because it was a fun celebration. The bitter part will be more apparent later, when I am back in two weeks and the trees are completely gone.
For those of your unfamiliar (hello British blogging friends!) Auburn University (where I went to school) has 100+ year old oak trees on Toomer’s Corner. They have stood there for all of the generations that my family has been at school there. And after sporting victories, fans and students roll the trees with toilet paper in celebration. While it may seem a little odd to outsiders, it is a great Auburn tradition. But in 2010 a rival fan tried to make it disappear by poisoning the trees, and now, despite all the work done by tree specialists, the poison was too much and the trees have to come down. This past weekend we all gathered to say goodbye.
It’s kind of amazing how much reverence a tree covered in toilet paper can provoke. But we just stood there staring at it, amazed at the way the wind caught the paper, remembering the times we have spent on that corner in years past. The corner will be rebuilt and new trees will be planted and the tradition will continue, but today trees that have been planted for generations and held the memories of so many fans are being cut down.
Toomer’s Corner isn’t just famous for its trees though. It is also famous for its lemonade. And so last week I tried to replicate it from a cookbook my parents have. The only problem was that I didn’t need a whole gallon of simple syrup and the measurements were not exactly easy to whittle down into smaller sizes. But after another run of it yesterday, I think I’ve figured it out, and now we can have this sweet sweet drink at home without having to make an entire gallon of sugar water.
Just like Toomer’s Corner is also known for it’s lemonade as well as it’s trees, the trees are not the only tradition we have. Even though victory celebrations may not be the same over the next couple of years as the corner is rebuilt and new trees are planted, we still have our tailgating and cheers. We still have the eagle and Aubie. We still have lemonade. And we will always have the trees, one way or another.
Toomer’s Corner Lemonade
adapted from Auburn Entertains
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Makes 1/2 gallon
10 oz. (about 1 1/3 cup) granulated sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 12-14 medium sized lemons)
1. To make the simple syrup, pour 10 oz. of sugar into a 2 cup measuring cup. Then fill the rest with warm water until it reaches the two cup mark. Stir until the sugar dissolves (if necessary, pour the mixture into a small saucepan and heat over low-heat until the sugar is dissolved).
2. In a medium-sized pitcher, combine 2 cups simple syrup, 1 cup lemon juice, and 5 cups of cold water. Stir together and serve chilled.