Friday, February 19, 2010

Chance Encounter at the Creamery

You never know when you'll meet a friend you didn't even know you had!
Chance Encounter at the Creamery

If I were stranded on a desert island with only one food, I would choose ice cream. When I was a child it was my favorite treat. It still is. So when the Creamery opened in Chinook a couple years ago, I celebrated its presence with a vanilla malt. When it closed in the fall, my heart fell. Ice cream may be a seasonal treat for you, but for me, I savor it year ‘round.

I don’t go to the Creamery every time I am in Chinook. When does a treat cease to be a treat? I don’t want to take that risk. So I often have to white knuckle the steering wheel right on past. But school had started. Summer was all but over. Winter was in the air. The Creamery would soon close. I let my van, Roshanna, lead me right up to the door.

Roshanna is a carmine red cargo van with my business logo embossed on the side panel. She and I have been partners for over twelve years now. I enjoy a special relationship with her. When I picked her up at the dealer’s, I asked her name. I knew we’d be together a long time. Cars, like cats, have names. “Roshanna,” she said. “That’s a strange name,” I said. “You should talk,” she replied. We are friends. I take good care of her. She knows my likes and dislikes. Therefore she automatically turns into the parking lots and glides to a stop at the Little Montana Café in Grass Range , the A&W in Roundup, the cute little coffee shop in Troy , the Mangy Moose in Priest River , the German café in Ritzville. You get the picture.

I purchased my vanilla cone and sat at the table out front, enjoying the late summer warmth as the ice cream trickled down my throat. A bicycle pulled in front of the shop. Roshanna winked at me from her parking space. We both recognize a kindred spirit when we see one. The rider pulled off his helmet and placed it at the other end of the table where I was sitting. “I see your bicycle automatically drove you here,” I said to the rider. “It never passes up an ice-cream shop,” he said. We grinned.

Then his buddy rolled in on his bike and we had a minute or two of chit-chat. They were pedaling coast to coast, from Seattle to Boston . The man who stopped for ice-cream was from Seattle . His buddy was from Boston . Boston asked me if I knew of a barber in town. He ruffled his hair, sweaty from the ride. The men had been on the road nearly two weeks and he was feeling shabby.

“Why, yes. Go down to Indiana Street and turn right. The shop is three or four blocks up the street, on the left. The sign simply says ‘Barber Shop.’ Linda is the barber. Tell her I sent you.” Then I added, “She’ll hack it off for you.”

The men bent over with laughter. I laughed too. I don’t know why I say these things. I don’t mean anything by them. It is a form of what I call “cowboy talk”. These phrases bypass my brain and roll off my tongue.

Seattle went inside to get his ice cream. Boston jumped back on his bike and rolled down the street, still laughing. I climbed into Roshanna and headed out of town. But first, I drove down Indiana and sure enough, the Bostonian’s bicycle was parked in front of the Barber Shop.

A chance encounter at the Creamery, my blurted out remark, and these men will never forget their stop in Chinook where Mr. Seattle had ice cream and Mr. Boston had his hair hacked off.

Sondra Ashton
Havre Daily News: Home Again
Published November 25, 2009

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