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  • Writer's picturestephanieraffelock

The Summer Sun Always Sets Over the Ice Cream Truck

Summer brings joyful chaos to life. The heat is such that I have to walk early in the day. Walk before the sun becomes too intense, and the air so thick from humidity that you can slice it. Up the street. Up the hill, a little pack of hubby, me and the dog. This is my family, two humans and one fur baby.

Summer brings nourishment for the mind, body and spirit -- sweet tomatoes and peppers from the garden, welcome afternoon breezes and white fluffy clouds; mornings on the back porch witnessing the forest just beyond the fence come alive with bird sounds and rustles in the vines. I don’t know when the big wheel will stop and return me to the stardust from which I came, so I try to remember to relish every moment that I can. I want to be in nature and with friends. Someone told me once that the single most important factor to aging well is relationships. Friends mirror back to us where we are in our lives. They feed our love, which is always looking for expression. The basics of survival are water, food and shelter, but without love we cannot thrive.

In my younger years, I struggled to find meaning. In middle age, I wanted a sense of purpose. These older years find me surrendering to the experience of simply being alive and sharing the journey when and where I can.

In the early evening, I breathe in the world through all of my senses. I relish the big, messy, wonderfulness of so many sorrows, joys, pains and pleasures that come with the package we call living. I sit next to my husband on the front porch as the day come to a close.

Music from a distant ice cream truck moves closer into the neighborhood. Kids scramble from front doors and run to the corner, a few parents following. Laughter and squeals punctuate the evening as they talk about what flavor they’ll get. The ice cream from the truck is probably pretty good, but it’s the camaraderie those kids share, the experience of being together that will set the unforgettable tone of a cherished memory.

The scene makes me recall Creamsicles and Drumsticks. Standing in a bathing suit having run through the sprinklers with my friends, I waited my turn to get to the window of the ice cream truck, change clutched in my hand, unable to stand still in the moment’s excitement. This was the rush of the summer and the magic, hot days with hoses wide open in back yards; the era of Slip and Slides and stay-at-home moms who didn’t to hover, but still appeared as if by magic to save us from ourselves.

I love the summer and I know this to be true: The summer sun always sets over the ice cream truck, attaching itself to lingering shadows on the lawn; kids running through the cul-de-sac, making happy sounds; family, friends and a few good dogs. I’m not sure that the summer gets any better than this. I’m not sure that life does.

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