A Miracle of Ice Cream

Lack of money wasn’t an obstacle — thanks to the kindness of strangers
Illustration by brad fitzpatrick

Did you know that Lake Winnipesaukee has an ice cream boat? I didn’t. If I had, I would have brought my wallet out to the float that day, just in case the boat made its way over into the particular nook in which my two young daughters and I were swimming.

There are few summer aural cues quite as direct as the sound of the ice cream truck making its way towards your location. And children, whose hearing is more acute than their parent’s (due, in my case, to too many summer music festivals), can hear him a clear 10 seconds before anyone else. This is why the ice cream man in your town is still in business after all these years. Parents are helpless against that sound meandering through the neighborhood because children have a head start on hearing it, and have already framed their pro-ice cream buying argument before you are even aware of what’s happening. The only defense against this phenomenon is to have a soundproof bubble surrounding you and your children as you make your way around in the summertime.

On this particular day in late summer, I was enjoying a quiet, remote lake view from a float with my two daughters, when we all heard that distinct music coming over the water. My daughters went into that slightly frenzied state of mind that children get into when they are over-excited.

“Dad! Dad! Ice cream! Out here! Can we get some? Please! Dad! Pleeeeeaaase! It‘s an ice cream boat!”

My heart sunk immediately. My wallet was somewhere back on the beach, or in the car, and I’m not sure there was enough physical cash in it at the moment to buy any ice cream anyway (curse these debit card times we live in). So I mentally prepared my “disappointment speech” as the ice cream boat neared the float. I tried to wave off the gentleman when he was still 50 feet out, but he just smiled and waved back as he eased on in to where we were. The girls sprang up as the boat slid alongside, their eyes wide as they viewed the colorful options available.

“I’m sorry,” I said to the boat’s driver, an amiable older man with a dark summer tan that juxtaposed his white, woolly mustache, “I don’t have my wallet with me. We’ll have to pass for today.”

Just as the girls began to register that there would not be any ice cream today, the gentleman reached into a cooler as he said, “That’s alright. This is my last day out here this summer, and I have to get rid of all this ice cream before I head back to my real life tomorrow. Have three on me!”

My 4 year old, with tears of joy beginning to form in the corners of her eyes, blurted out a phrase she would repeat the rest of the day and a few of the following ones as well.

“It’s a miracle, Dad! It’s a miracle of ice cream!”

Yes, it was, sweetheart. Yes, it was. 

Categories: Humor