A Sure Sign of Winter: Ice Cream Day!

By , October 10, 2009

Living semi-remote in Alaska, we watch for changes in weather and changes in season. Indicators of the transition from summer to winter are myriad, but one we particularly anticipate is Ice Cream Day!

There’s a little snack shack in Haines, run out of a small portable building that sits on a gravel pad. This is a seasonal business that gets packed up and put away in early October, rather than struggling through the winter in an uninsulated facility. On the day they close, they must empty the soft ice cream machines. To do this, and as a way to thank everyone for a summer’s patronage, the owners hand out free ice cream cones in the afternoon of closing day, and keep serving until the machines are empty.

The beauty of this arrangement for the home schooled ice cream lover, is that public school doesn’t let out until around 3:15. The line that forms shortly before the start of the giveaway is small, and if you’re home schooled, you are sure to get a cone in your chosen flavor.

Yesterday was Ice Cream Day. We just happened to be going up the valley to pick highbush cranberries, and managed to pass through town just before 3:00 p.m. Not only did we get ice cream, but Aly got to see a lot of her home schooled friends, who also just happened to be there before public school let out.

The first year, we arrived early to find a handful of kids already in line. The boy at the head of the line sat on the platform in front of the serving window, facing those behind him. This young man is an awkward teen, proudly self-described as a nerd. As we waited, he bragged constantly and loudly that he was the first in line. When 3:00 came, he relished ordering and being handed the first free ice cream cone. He then turned to leave, took a bad step off the platform, stumbled, and dropped his cone!

Ours is a small town. People are unhurried, polite, and endlessly gracious. Everyone stood back and waited while he returned shamefaced to the window and received a replacement cone. But we also laughed quite a bit. We couldn’t believe our luck: free ice cream and a floor show!

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