Here I sit, in the first week of June in the D.C. metropolitan area, staring out my office window at the murky gray mottle of sky that’s been dribbling down in spurts and deluges for the past two days. It hasn’t gotten above the mid-60s most of the week, and to top it all off, I’m fighting a low-grade cold with sandpapery throat and sniffles. And while summer is technically still slightly more than 2 weeks away, we all know that Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of what should be summer. Too bad no one informed Mother Nature of this so that she could switch to the summer playlist on her iClimate.
What better way, then, to combat these meteorological blues and blahs then to tap into one of the happiest of my childhood summertime memories: Behold, the Mickey Mouse ice cream bar. Not only is this an integral piece to my summertime puzzle, it’s as representative to me of summer vacations to North Carolina as Cheerwine is.
I don’t know why, but we only ever got these ice cream bars when we went to North Carolina. Perhaps my parents wanted them to remain a treat associated with visiting my grandparents. Whatever the reason, this gleeful little Mickey face has become synonymous in my mind with everything else wonderful from those trips to North Carolina: listening to my grandfather’s scanners chatter away like white noise; watching him work in his shed on whatever his latest hobby was, whether it was building grandfather clocks or ship models; the lingering smell of fresh laundry that burbled up from the drain hose in the backyard whenever my grandmother would wash clothes; helping her hang sheets out to dry in the steady breeze coming off the waterway; fishing with my uncle on my grandparents’ pier for so long that I looked like a little cooked lobster by the time we came back inside.
I can still remember the soft-serve consistency of the ice cream and how quickly it melted in the sultry summer air. I remember sticky little hands held up like stars at twilight, showing that I had finished my ice cream and was now in desperate need of a napkin.
I’d love one of these Mickey bars right now. Even more, I’d love to be back in those memories, if only just for a moment—sitting at the end of my grandparents’ pier at high tide, feeling the water rise up and over my bare feet with the wake left by each passing boat and barge. I don’t think we ever realize how special moments like those are until they’re nothing more than memories. But the memories are as sweet as Mickey’s Parade.