Harley Hay

Harley Hay: First day of spring

It’s a sure sign of spring, and it happened just the other day. You probably thought I was talking about floating tiny twigs and sticks down the little gutter rivers on the streets. Or rubber boots. Or many morasses of mud out in the back alleys. Or, maybe a robin?

Close. This year I’ve already done the gutter stick races and the back alley mud (hence the rubber boots) but I’ve yet to hear or see the heart-warming sights and sounds of the always-welcome turdus migratorius. May be you been lucky enough to have seen a robin already on account of may be your hearing and seeing is much better than mine. In fact, it’s quite likely.

But no, the sure sign of spring started out with a distant floating melody drifting effortlessly down the street. The song, tinkling with happy bells, was either It’s a Small World After All or Pop Goes the Weasel or something by Billie Eilish – but the song title wasn’t the point. It was what the song was attached to.

It kept getting closer and closer, and even before I stepped out onto our sidewalk with my sock feet, I knew exactly what it was. And so did all the rest of the kids on the block.

“Here comes the ICE CREAM TRUCK!” my neighbour yelled. He’s about 8-years-old and he and his buddy had been noodling around in the puddles, but by now they were both making a beeline for their respective houses, yelling some more: “Mom! It’s the ice creak truck! I need some money for the ice cream truck!”

I resisted calling to the house: “Better Half! I need some money for the ice cream truck!” on account of it was at just that moment that I realized that in my distracted celebration of all things ice cream that come in a truck playing ice cream music, I had accidentally stepped into a sidewalk puddle with my socks.

Back in the house, I was leaving wet footprints on the hardwood floor which is generally quite frowned upon but it was OK because I remembered that the B.H. was out for a walk-and-talk with her buddies and the way those ladies can talk, I knew she wouldn’t be back any time soon. So I figured I could just leave the footprints to dry and she might not even notice. (Later, this turned out to be a significantly incorrect assumption on my part.)

So by now the ice cream truck is stopped out front and the neighbour kid and his buddy and many other random local munchkins are gathering at the truck window like bees to honey, buzzing away and pointing at the pictures of Fudge Bars, Strawberry Crunches and Bomb Pops and holding out crumples sheafs of parental cash to the revered Ice Cream Man in the window.

As I stood at the window and watched I happily remembered once being in that moiling group of punks and punkettes, elbowing my way to the front of the line so that I could nab one of those Orange Burst Pop-Up Freeze Pops before that little girl from across the street could get the last one. I remembered it clearly and fondly on account of this was only two summers ago. I may have gotten some dirty looks from some parents that day.

But now, the first day of spring was finally here and the ice cream truck was calling me again. Unfortunately, it was not to be. By the time I found the Better Half’s piggy bank it was too late. The truck was already gone.

It’s OK, I told myself, the little girl across the street probably got the last Orange Burst Freeze Pop anyway.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker.

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