Monday, March 23, 2009

The First Ice Cream Run of the Season

Friday was the first day of spring, depending on how one defines "first," "day," "spring," and quite possibly "of."

It's all a matter of the equinox, and when it falls, and whether that makes it spring or not, and whether the first day is the first full day or just the day when the equinox falls (or springs, in this case), and so on. It all gets frightfully complicated, and for my part I tend to assume that the 21st is always the first day of the new season whether or not there is an equinox or solstice on that day because it is more personally convenient for me to do so.

Seasons: the new Presidents Day.

So it was spring, officially, and to the Wisconsinite this can only mean one thing: it's ice cream season!

Of course Wisconsinites think that about Memorial Day, summer, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Halloween, Christmas, New Years, and most days that end in "y." They are, as a group, obsessed with ice cream. The ice cream bunkers in our local supermarket are longer than a dental appointment and contain more varieties than there are beetles. When I lived alone, outside of Wisconsin, I would buy about a pint of ice cream a year and eat maybe half of it. I don't think you can buy ice cream in pints in this state. Ice cream in Wisconsin begins at the half gallon and proceeds from there through gallons, five-gallon pails, 55-gallon drums, and dumpsters. Fudge sauce is extra, but refills are free.

So we had to celebrate the arrival (or not) of the first day of spring by going out and getting some ice cream. Rather than haul out the winch and bring some home from the supermarket, we decided to go to our local soft-serve joint, which recently re-opened from its long winter's nap.

The place is an odd mixture of 1950s pink and early 1980s graphics, with glass walls so you can see all the goodies inside, two walk-up windows and one drive-up for ordering, a full staff of teenagers looked over by one motion-blurred adult, and a smattering of picnic tables (also pink) for hungry customers to eat their goodies. There is no indoor seating. The soft-serve is inexpensive, tasty, and contains no pesky natural ingredients to set off people's allergies. On a warm summer's night the walk-up lines stretch to the sidewalks and the drive-through line circles the building and extends down the block into oncoming traffic. Turning left into the parking lot is not recommended - better just to go around the block and come at it from the other side.

It was 44 degrees outside when we arrived.

Of course there was a line.

Tabitha got her "Dad sundae" - a vanilla ice-cream, hot fudge and marshmallow sauce concoction that was pretty much what I always got when I was her age and my dad would take Keith and me to the Dairy Queen in Upper Darby. Except for the decor, that DQ was pretty much identical to our little soft-serve place described above. Some things never change. Lauren had much the same sundae, only with creme de menthe instead of marshmallow sauce.

And it was good.

Happy spring!

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