One of my favourite memories of summer as a kid was the sound of the icecream van in our neighbourhood. You could hear it several streets away and always strain to hear which direction it was coming from, and whether it was headed your way. It doesn’t seem to happen nearly so much anymore; maybe it’s something about being in the suburbs versus the inner city, or maybe it’s just that getting icecream from a van isn’t quite so lucrative anymore. But a couple of nights ago, we heard the sound of an icecream van here. It wasn’t playing Greensleeves, but it was playing Music Box Dancer, which is an acceptable substitute. And we discovered it had stopped right beside our house.
I should say too that one of Chelsea’s favourite tv shows is the Koala Brothers (or as she calls them, the Wahlah Bwudduhs). We have three of the books too, and one of them is about Lolly, the emu character who drives around the outback in an icecream van. In one episode, Lolly’s van speakers break down – a tragedy because no-one knows she’s coming. So Chelsea’s been well aware of the concept of icecream vans for a while now, but we’d never really seen one.
So there we were in the front yard on a warm and humid evening, watering the plants (with our grey water, I assure you) and as the sound began to fill our ears, we raced around the corner. Chelsea’s eyes were filled with excitement, and mine with a bit of tears of happiness. There’s something about sharing a childhood joy with your own kids that is just…sacred. Precious. This is the stuff of life. She excitedly pointed to the crude painting of Mickey Mouse on the front, and we danced together to the music.
Then we went and bought an icecream. Nothing exciting really, just a plain single cone. But there was nothing plain about the moment. It was this beautiful shared experience of excitement and joy; a real treat, all the more special for its being rare. We shared the icecream like we shared the joy; one lick at a time each, and when it was done and we wiped the icecream off, the smile was still there.