My father and I didn’t have many shared hobbies when I was a youngster. I wasn’t a fan of fishing and he had little patience for building with Legos. Luckily, we had ice cream. When summertime rolled around, we used every excuse possible to slip off to the nearest roadside scoop stand. Our go-to orders were either vanilla malted milkshakes, so thick the straw stood straight up, or wafer cones towering high with our favorite flavors. He was a big fan of maple walnut; peanut butter cup was my jam.
We would grab a seat at a picnic table and savor our sweet treats silently, except for the occasional mmm of approval. My favorite visits were after dinner, when the intense heat of the day receded. I loved looking up at the sky, a purple sprawl punctuated by white glittering stars, listening to the creaking cricket symphony. No matter what else was on the to-do list, we never rushed. This was our moment of zen, a peaceful way for my father and I to bond.
Now that I’m a dad myself, I’m continuing this ritual with my 5-year-old son, Zephyr. Though we both already enjoy gardening, camping and playing Legos, ice cream wasn’t a tough sell. After his first cup—cones didn’t come until later, when he learned he couldn’t hold them at an angle and had to lick quick—he developed a soul-deep love for strawberry ice cream. In fact, it’s his answer to the question, “What is your favorite vegetable?” I never have the heart to correct him. I understand where you’re coming from, little man.
We don’t usually plan our jaunts to scoop shops; they just spontaneously happen when the mood strikes. The trips I relish most are after summertime suppers. We’ll pile into the car and spend most of the ride discussing what we’re in the mood to enjoy. Recently Zephyr’s order switched to rainbow sherbert. I keep asking for peanut butter cup ice cream, still letting the mmms hang in the air as we eat together, silently.