When I was a little kid living in Somerville, and even in the ‘country’ of Tewksbury, we were all the way past the beginning of spring, and totally into spring, practically knocking on summer’s door… when the Ice Cream Man came.
That now-considered-by-me creepy (but then-considered-by-me the most exciting sound of the day) circus-y music that sent every kid in the neighborhood running home and begging for coins.
“Ma! Ma! …… MA! I need a quaw-tah!”
Well, you hoped for a quarter. Because that’s what the most expensive ice cream treat cost – the ‘strawberry’ or ‘chocolate’ sundaes in those plastic, see through cups. The chocolate was like hard, frozen, plastic fudge. And the strawberry? The ‘strawberry’ crunched like the freezer-burned syrup of the Gods it was. Those sundaes were the holy grail of ice cream from the Ice Cream Man.
If you could only get 15 cents, you could get a Push-Up, which involved using the stick to push ice cream up through a cardboard tube and into your mouth (too much work), or you could get one of those orange and white ice cream concoctions in a plastic cone-shaped thing… also see through… and with a gum ball at the pointy part of the cone which, once you held the ‘cone’ for a few minutes and the ice-cream began to get soft due to the warmth of you hand, the gum ball would start to bleed its color all over the ice cream at the bottom.
Plus even though the ice cream melted, the gum ball remained frozen when you tried to chew it. But it was still awesome. Blue gum balls were the best.
And if you could only scrounge 10 cents you could get a Hoodsie in a cardboard cup. It had white and chocolate ice cream inside (divided in half, not mixed) and there was a wooden spoon in tissue-y paper stuck to the top. But Hoodsie cups were no fun, because my Nana bought those and had them in her freezer. You wanted something exotic if you got it from the Ice Cream Man.
Today, though, Hoodsie cups make me smile. Once I actually served them as dessert at a fancy dinner party and everyone laughed and smiled as they ate from their Hoodsie cups with their wooden spoons.
It was awesome.
But I digress…
The reason that the Ice Cream Man came around in Somerville and Tewksbury was the houses were close enough together that, every time he stopped, about 1.247 million kids (see? totally believable with the decimal points) would line up for ice cream. It was a goldmine of a business.
But then we moved to Dunstable, where you have Dunstable neighbors.
Most of whose houses you can’t even see.
Seriously, the Ice Cream Man would spend way more on gas than he would profit on ice cream thingies if he tried to operate in Dunstable.
So we have to look for other signs that spring is totally here, beyond the arrival of the Ice Cream Man (and Poop Day, of course).
And, guess what! There is a sign like this in Dunstable! And it also involves waiting for the sound of a vehicle approaching – this one is a little bass-ier and absent the creepy circus music of the Ice Cream Man’s truck. But there is a nice man driving a hulking vehicle, and important nutritious stuff is being distributed.
Move aside Ice Cream Man, make room for…
The Poop Mobile!
Ya. There’s a theme here.
Every year, spring is confirmed when the field next door is pooped.
Oh sure, they say ‘fertilized’, but I know that smell.
First, you can hear the sound of the big old John Deere tractor making its way along Thorndike Street. You can hear the engine slow as the farmer takes the turn into the field next door, and you can hear the gears grind and the engine speed up as the tractor pulls the big yellow cart up and down the field distributing… poop.
And for days after, the house and yard are filled with the scent of Eau De Poo.
And you know what?
I like it.
I mean, I don’t necessarily plan on dabbing the poo behind my ears for a date night with the Nearly Perfect Husband or anything, but I like… no, I love when the field is pooped. It is a major sign of spring.
This morning, as I heard the tractor pooping the field, I walked down to where my irises are planted, and – sure enough – they are coming up.
I looked at the river birches and, sure enough, the buds are hanging off the branches. The forsythia is blooming crazy yellow, the viburnums’ buds have popped and the maple trees have huge, red buds that are about to explode.
Spring is never a date on the calendar in New England.
If Poop Day was the signal, then the Poop Mobile is the big sign.
We need a slogan for spring.
Something that goes with the theme.
“Poop… it’s spring!”
I’m totally making t-shirts.
Thanks for readin’.
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