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Thursday, February 25, 2010

#96 Dessert

Continuing with the 100 life-enriching little nuances series…

Photo: Andreas Schaefer
Some of my best childhood memories include my mom getting off work, picking up my sister and me and taking us to an ice cream shop.

I wish I could remember the name of it, but we didn’t use the name of it in conversation. We just said, “Let’s go get some ice cream,” and that’s where we went.

The structure of the place always looked shaky to me. It was surrounded by a gravel parking lot. And I remember a huge tree of one sort or another that stood proudly in front of the place, providing plenty of shade -- encouraging customers to sit around for a while to converse.

It was a small building without many places to sit inside. But it did have those round stools that were connected the floor and you could play sit and spin if there wasn’t anybody sitting next to you. It also had picnic tables outside and when the weather wasn’t too hot, people tended to gravitate toward them.

When you chose to sit outside, you could order from the walk up window through a screen. It sort of felt like a confessional -- only I was confessing I wanted a double-decker chocolate ice cream cone instead of admitting I punched my sister.

I wish I could tell you I took my time, savoring every lick, while enjoying the company of my family. In reality, I’ve always sort of inhaled ice cream. No, I don’t get head rushes from eating ice cream. But that doesn’t mean I enjoyed the experience any less. I just happened to finish my ice cream before the rest of my family did.

But it provided the perfect opportunity for us to catch up with each other, or occasionally, to do family business when my sister and I were dealing with one thing or another.

As is the case with so many of my childhood haunts, the ice cream shop is gone now. But I every time I hear tires crunching their way down a gravel road, I think of those summer days some 30 odd years ago when I would get all excited as we turned off Main Street into the gravel parking lot of the place that served the best double-decker chocolate ice cream cones ever.

I didn’t realize it then, but desserts are sort of like coffee. They aren’t meant to be necessary. Instead, they are relationship builders. They give us a reason to stop doing and simply be.


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