The funny thing about ice cream is that it really can be a eaten at any time of the day. This is a glorious revelation that came to me some time in my early adult years and has carried through to this day. I have many a home video vignette sitting in the kitchen, usually early in the morning as the rest of the house slept, with one of my little girls eating ice cream and telling me that it is their fourth or fifth birthday. Ice cream for breakfast on your birthday, nothing better.
Of course ice cream is a lunch food, afternoon heat breaker, desert for dinner and late night treat. Most know this, but I believe there is as much import in the process of getting and eating the ice cream as there is in the enjoyment of eating.
I have mentioned here, "Summer Vacation"how my grandfather used to march all of us kids to a real ice cream parlor a block from the beach. There had to have been 10 or 12 of us crossing Ocean Ave. and making our way to that shop. It was a parade, with my jolly old grandfather leading the way in his sear sucker pants, white short sleeve dress shirt, grey tie bearing the names of half of his grandkids (he had so many he needed two ties), and of course his white summer fedora. He would be waving his white handkerchief like a band leader. (he always had that handkerchief with him and would wipe his nose and anyone else's that needed wiping). We were a spectacle. I remember loving the ice cream but loving the parade more.
Every Sunday night, generally in the fall and early winter as we watched TV, my Dad would pick himself up from the floor, where he always reclined to with with us and head out to Friendly's, a local ice cream place. Since he was buying for eight of us he would typically get about a gallon of one or two different favors but he would always get at least a pint, if not a quart of hot fudge. It always made me laugh, when I got to accompany him, to watch the kids behind the counter pump that hot fudge container a million times. It was designed to squirt the stuff on a single Sunday not fill a quart sized ice cream container. Nonetheless we came home with enough sugary frozen stuff to please the whole crew. I loved being the scooper at home. Yes, you got all sticky as you doled out 8 bowls in different combinations of ice cream and fudge, and sometimes toasted pound cake (my favorite) but you also served yourself last licking all the spoons and putting that extra scoop in your bowl. Again, the ice cream and fudge were good but the getting and scooping are what I remember most.
Luckily I got to continue this time with my Dad even after I started having kids of my own. Dad never lost hi love for the post dinner ice cream run so one night early on as parents he calls our house and says he's heading to his current favorite spot and wants to know if we want to go with him. In this way one of the best traditions, and memories my kids have of him was born. Sometimes on a Sunday, but often on some random weeknight during the summer he and Mom would call or just show up at the house and gather whoever was around for a run to various local spots. One summer he really liked the place in our town. Another is was the one a few towns inland. Then it was the one on the beach. He always had a favorite place but he almost always got the same thing. He would get a cup half filled with some form of butter pecan and matched with cherry vanilla. Totally gross, I know, but it's what he loved. We would all laugh every time he ordered and he would get a silly grin as he ate to our remarks.
I will never forget all these ice cream runs. I love the stuff and can, and do eat it at any time day or night. As I get older I realize more and more it's not about the frozen cream it's about the warm hearts. Tonight, we get ice cream!
And that makes me happy.