Chocolate Chip Mint

Andy Landis shares her personal reflections about taking life for granted and how important it is to stop and savor the moments because life passes too quickly. Every fresh breath is worthy of a heartfelt "Thank you" to the same God who made the Spring.

by Andy Landis

I gained six pounds. This is even more exasperating since I lost, only weeks ago, these very same six pounds. But two weeks ago when it came time to celebrate my mother’s birthday (she is in her 70s) on the same day of my second niece’s first beauty pageant (she came in first runner-up) I had no choice but to eat everything in sight. I was nervous. Besides, I was celebrating.

Today feels like early Spring on my farm. The sun is shining, the freshly cut grass is buoyant under my bare feet, the honeybees are busy visiting flowers and trees, the hummingbirds have returned from South America, and the Blue Jays are squawking with each peanut they steal from the tray full I put out for them. Spring is here. Winter is over. I want to celebrate.

Living at the farm is wonderful except when I need something quickly. The nearest place to get groceries is 20 minutes away. And that is just a little local market. An actual grocery store is a 30-minute drive. A Wal-mart or Target—nearly three quarters of an hour. This means I’d better take to the farm what I need and want before I actually need it or want it. I have to practically be psychic to plan it well. However, on a Spring day like this, all that extra planning is worth it. I don’t have to leave the farm for anything at all unless, of course, what I want and need is ice cream.

I want some. I need some. But there is this long drive to justify. And no matter how good I am at justifying, sometimes I can’t even sell myself on an idea. Plus, there are these six extra pounds hanging on my thighs. And yet, I am starting to visualize a cup of Purity chocolate chip mint ice cream so clearly that I can taste it, feel it dripping down my chin. It’s this Spring weather. It’s all warm and fresh feeling. Spring is so darn … happy. And happiness makes me want to celebrate. Rats!

Back to work in the garden. I pull weeds. A change of pace will change my mind, I am certain. There are puppies to walk and beds to change. Visitors have come and gone and left me with several slept-in sheets still on the beds. I can take the trash out. I have dishes to wash. Calls to return. I am a busy gal, after all. I don’t have 20 minutes to drive into town for a cup of ice cream, for heaven’s sake. Plus, I’ll have to drive back!

Nothing will get my mind off that Spring green mint ice cream waiting for me at the Blue Bird Antique Shop in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. It was voted Tennessee’s favorite Ice Cream Parlor, by the way. Think of something else, I tell my brain.

I clean with more vigor. Surely a phone call would come in to rescue me from such thoughts, I assure myself. I try to think of something terrible like starving children in Peru, Tsunamis and cancer. Being a cancer survivor I can do this without feeling guilty. I think of my friends who have cancer right now who aren’t doing so well. This should make me feel guilty enough that I will stop thinking about ice cream. Stop thinking about myself.

And then I remember. I remember how life goes quickly. How friends sometimes die before their time. How starving children would love a cup of ice cream. I remember my own battle with cancer and how six pounds disappeared all too quickly when I was sick and tired and lonely and afraid. I remember that every day is worth celebrating. Every new Spring is a gift. Every fresh breath is worthy of a heartfelt thank you to the same God who made the Spring. I remember. And I decide.

I climb into my truck and drive into Bell Buckle, 20 minutes away, and pull up at the best ice cream parlor in Tennessee. Entering the cozy antique shop, I greet my friend behind the old wooden counter. “Give me some ice cream,” I smile. “Today is Spring and I’m celebrating.”

“Howdy,” she says, her gray hair piled up in a bun on top of her head. “Ya want it in a cup?” she asks me. I pause for a moment. “Nah,” I tell her. “Give me a cone. A waffle cone. And give me a great big single scoop of chocolate chip mint. The green kind.”

I take my cone in hand and walk out into the sun, breathing in a spring full of freshly cut grass and blooming wildflowers. I hear the honeybees humming happily and let the cool breeze wash across my face. I am alive. I am here. I am celebrating today.

Licking my cone, I let the green, cold, refreshing mint ice cream drip down my chin. I look down at my six extra pounds of thigh and say out loud, “Enjoy this, my friends. For tomorrow we may exercise.” I lick and savor and taste it all. I bite into the cone and smell the mint. I let the chocolate chips melt in my mouth. I feel the cold, wet, food fill my mouth and slide down my throat into my belly. What a way to celebrate Spring, and celebrate life! I laugh with myself and finish the last bite of my homemade waffle cone filled with ice cold cream. Then I stop for a moment and let the warm, Spring sun have its way with my face. I smile. “Worth the drive,” I whisper to the wind.

Then I get in my truck and make the long trip home.

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