Sunday, July 11, 2010

Summer Challenge Week Three: Ice Cream

Challenge #3: What is your favorite ice cream flavor or frozen treat? When you were younger where did you go to get ice cream? Was it from an ice cream truck, a shop or an ice cream parlor? This week treat yourself to your favorite childhood ice cream or frozen concoction. Use all your senses as you indulge in this summertime tradition. Record the experience, memories, and thoughts on revisiting your favorite flavor or frozen treat in your sketchbook and share here on The Paper Compass.

"It’s summer. Eat ice cream.”

I don’t think I could say it better than my fellow mediaman team member Beth LaPointe’s current Skype status.

With sweltering temperatures, bright blazing sun, and extra hours of light that fill the evenings, summertime allows us the perfect weather in which to fully appreciate the delightfully frozen treat of ice cream. Whether it is from an ice cream parlor, Baskin Robin’s, or a treat that follows the tinny, beckoning music of the ice cream truck, ice cream is an inherent summer tradition.

The beautiful thing about eating something frozen in the summertime is that it requires the concentration that is so key to emersion in a single experience and excellent for creative thinking. You must strategize your method of eating as the ice cream melts. Do you lick around the edge of the cone? In concentric circles? What happens when you get down to the cone? Everyone has a different tactic.

Even more of a challenge in my opinion, are the sweet treats from the ice cream truck. With an architectural support structure composed of a single stick (unless it is a Chipwich or ice cream sandwich), you must eat it in such a way that half the concoction does not slide off in a slick melting pile when you devour one side. Many a Chocolate Éclair, Strawberry Shortcake, Sponge Bob and Mickey Mouse chocolate-eared ice cream pop have met this fateful end.

Where I grew up in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, Baskin Robin’s was a short walk from the house. If you left the backyard through the side gate—which was a flimsy wire fence that you needed to lift up-and- out of the looped closures—and proceeded down the narrow street that ran in front of a series of little bungalows, you would come out in the back alley behind the bike shop and Garden Catering, across from my Dad’s store. The bike shop would, a few years later, burn down in a raging fire at three in the morning that made the whole of main street smell like burning rubber. Garden Catering, on the other hand is still there, with its impossibly narrow white-sided shop front, an American flag out front and the neon OPEN sign glowing in the window. I can still taste the seasoned fries and apple fritters.

If you then turned left and went under the train bridge and up a small hill, you reached the shopping center in which my knowledge of ice cream was first formed. After the walk from the house, not only was Baskin Robins delightfully cold with its air conditioned interior, but the chilled air also carried a slightly creamy-sweet scent. Everything about the ice cream store seemed exciting at the time: the smell, the metal rimmed counter with its padded stools that spun, the small pink tasting spoons, and the freezer cases with the flavors displayed like a pastel watercolor paint box in their recessed tubs.

While my mom’s favorite flavor was Mint Chocolate Chip, and my Dad often got Rocky Road, I eagerly anticipated the summertime flavor of Bubble Gum. This pale pink ice cream, sprinkled with tiny colored bubble gum pieces, was strangely delicious and incredibly complex to eat. To this day I still like it and simultaneously do not completely comprehend why—perhaps sentimentality. As you lick the ice cream, you have to chew the gum—which is not chewy because it is frozen, so you end up swallowing it along with the ice cream. It defies logic and is not something not to be over thought…just enjoyed before it melts.

All of this is the inspiration for the third Summer Challenge: Ice Cream. Ice Cream and frozen treats are a summertime tradition and a great way to emerge yourself in a sensory experience or unlock memories for creative inspiration.

This week make time to indulge in an ice cream treat. I recommend revisiting a favor childhood flavor or experience, whether it is tracking down an ice cream truck or finding an ice cream parlor with a counter. Use all your senses to note the color, taste, texture, smell, and sounds of eating ice cream in the summertime. Note the experience in your sketchbook and share here on The Paper Compass

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