Ice Cream Ideologies

On a whim recently, I decided to make home-made ice cream for my family. Of course, this entailed a trip to the grocery store to gather the needed ingredients for this fun, frozen concoction. The recipe is one that was passed down to me by my grandmother and it has been a part of my life for many many years. I should have known that when I mix traditions with a trip to the store that a lesson was unfolding on the grocery horizon!

So there I am, deep within the throng of of a constantly ebbing and flowing sea of people who appear dead set on preventing me from getting the needed ingredients to fulfill my holy quest of producing frozen delights for my kith and kin! As usual, I was in a hurry and had no time for delays or interruptions. I was a maniacal demon flitting through the aisles akin to a forest sprite darting through the ocean of trees in a primordial forest. I would not be daunted or delay, I would finish the task at hand! Each ingredient a check mark off of my list of glorious ingredients and one step closer to the exit and the warm embrace of my recliner. I would be able to leave this evil bog of overabundance and sweaty feet and retreat to my humble abode to recover my senses and soul. Only one more ingredient left……

I still needed maraschino cherries (did I mention this was decadent cherry vanilla homemade ice cream?). I searched high and low to no avail. Every inch of this grand monstrosity of commerce was combed like a fat kid looking for the last cookie crumb. Of course, me being the manly, he-man that I am, I am NOT going to ask where they are located, that would be ludicrous. So the painful search continued until I rounded a corner of row of commodities and beheld a light shining down from the heavens….a single beam of majestic light falling down upon the section of cherries that would end my suffering and strife. I had found the elusive ingredient and would soon be free of this madness! I gently reached out for the cherries and lifted a jar a high for all to see my glorious achievement. I wanted the entire Publix kingdom to know that I came, I saw, I had, indeed, conquered the hidden cherries. I had won the day!

There was a slight saunter in my victorious stroll to the checkout counter. I placed my items on the belt and waited for them to be rung up and bagged. I heard a shaky, ancient voice from the bagging area inquire if I was making ice cream. I turned to see and elderly man bagging my items with a look of wisdom upon his countenance. He knew so many things I had yet to learn. He was the keeper of ancient secrets that only a long life and age will reveal. I said that I was. He said he figured from the ingredients that it must be ice cream. He asked if I had a machine and if it was electric or manual. I said it was electric. He then went on to share his experiences as a youth making ice cream with a hand cranked churn. He said it was quite a bit of work, but the process was so long that it became an event for his entire neighborhood. He said each Wednesday night in the summers of his boyhood, his family and neighbors would gather together and each bring their churns to make ice cream for all. There was a deep sense of community and gratitude buried within the arduous labor of creating ice cream with a hand crank.

He mentioned that it was one of his fondest memories and that he wished we still took the time to reach each other on a much deeper level than we do now in the age of “get it done, and get it done right now”. I felt a sense of shame and regret sink in as I thought of how hastily I tried to throw together my shopping list and get out of the store. I was just going to go home, plug in the churn, and set-it-and-forget-it. I would have no deep engagements with my neighbors. How many of us even know all of our neighbors’ names? I thanked him for allowing me to have a peek at his past and for bagging my items. He told me to have a good day and to take the time to make memories I would cherish. I told him I would try, but will I really? Will I make the effort to slow my pace? I hope so. I want to.

A version of this post was previously published on and is republished here with permission from the author.


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