BY CHRIS BRAUER
A fifteen-kilometer drive is long enough for two teenagers to discuss half a dozen random topics. As we motor along, my son Nicholas and his friend Cassidy talk about Korean pop music, the proper methods of seasoning popcorn, how difficult it is to say ‘smoked pork chops’, sleeping with socks on, the best milk to cereal ratio, and the characters in the video game Overwatch (in that order). I am happy just to listen and focus on the winding road. We head out of town, pass the viewpoint and Wynndel Foods, and then we wind along the lake road before pulling off onto the gravel driveway.
We could easily find a frozen treat closer to home, but I think we all enjoy the short drive past farmhouses and thick wilderness. It’s liberating, even for teenagers, to putter along without having to be somewhere at a certain time. I occasionally tune into their conversation, but other times I sing along to the music.
The conversation comes to an abrupt halt as I park the car. As we approach, there are two older gentlemen paying for their ice cream. They stop the cold drips with their tongues, climb back in their Jeep Wrangler, and drive off. The three of us walk in together, and I wonder what flavours are offered this season. My favourite is rum and raisin.
Though the list of available flavours is clearly written on the wall, we instead peer through the glass and into the freezer. All sorts of bold colours tempt us: neon orange, electric blue and pale pastel green. But I’m set in my ways. I know exactly what I’m looking for. Maybe I should be more adventurous and try bubble gum or some equally ridiculous flavour, but I don’t. I find what I’m looking for in the top right area of the freezer and quickly order a scoop.
Stone Cold Ice Cream is a destination ice cream shop, and I appreciate it even more because I can get away from the dust and noise of town. When we arrive, the grass is freshly cut and the little yellow park benches under the shade of umbrellas seem like the perfect place to write as the two teenagers head up the short path to the bench that overlooks the surrounding area.
Though the thin clouds have cut the direct sun, the breeze has stopped and the air has gone stale. I sit down with my one scoop (in a cup, so my fingers don’t get sticky and there’s less chance of dripping on the keyboard) and switch between spoonfuls and two or three sentences. I dip my spoon and carve off the ice cream that’s softened along the edges.
After a while, I look up and take in my surroundings. The shop itself looks like an old miner’s cabin. The wide wooden planks look weathered and, with the sloped roof and lanterns on either side that hang over small square windows, I am reminded of times past – a time that moved at a slower pace without the speed of cross-country freeways or the stress of technology. When there’s a break in traffic, I can hear birdsong and the trickle of water from the fountain. I kick off my sandals, and can feel the grass under my feet.
Nicholas and Cassidy come to join me. They have finished and are ready to head home. When I tell them I’m in the middle of a paragraph, and need a few minutes, they wander around the property. I watch as a family from Alberta drive in – all t-shirts and sandals and summer tans – and make their way inside. They too scan the colours under the glass before making their final decision. The whole family orders two scoops on waffle cones. They obviously aren’t concerned with sticky fingers like I am. I can hear bits of conversation. It concerns the temperature of the lake. They all agree it’s still really cold.
As they leave, I wonder about all the characters that pull into Stone Cold Ice Cream and what flavours they choose and their reasons for stopping. I wonder if the young woman behind the counter is content to watch the day unfold. I finish the last of my ice cream – more a puddle at the bottom of the cup – and call over Nicholas and Cassidy. This was just the break we needed, and we return ready to reenter the slipstream of life.
Time: 2:32 p.m.
Place: Stone Cold Ice Cream