RANT: For some, it’s the inexplicable (to my family, anyway) urge to purge the yard of leaves. For others, it’s the sweet words “off-sides” and “corner kick” or eyeing the cornstalks and gourds at the farmer’s market at Goddard. But for me, the true harbinger of fall – which actually officially started last month – is the closing of the neighborhood ice cream emporiums (that sound you hear is me screaming in denial).
In this era of the 24/7 economy, an enterprise that stays shuttered for one-third of the year might seem to make as much sense as owning a chain of phone booths. But as much as I hate the actuality of it, I do sort of appreciate the seasonal rhythm it represents.
Sure, cabinets and sundaes are available at many local restaurants, any time. And, of course, there’s the supermarket offerings. But true ice cream aficionados go into deep mourning around this time of the year because we know that truly, only our local stuff will do.
This rite of fall, repeated from Westerly to Pawtucket, signals that cold weather is just around the corner — even if we’re still wearing shorts. Consider that a mere few weeks ago, I was digging into a cup of Hill Top’s chocolate dipped Moose Tracks (something I only recently discovered was possible to do – to the chagrin of my waistline, which was already barely surviving what I saw as a balanced rational of dipped non-fat twist cones). Soon we’ll be digging out from a different kind of frozen formula – this one not nearly as delicious (my kids never really bought into the maple syrup snow sundaes thing).
Well, I guess I should count myself lucky that I don’t live in a place like Park Slope, Brooklyn. There, parents – who apparently never learned to say no - are rallying to ban ice cream vendors if not altogether, at least around places like playgrounds and parks because their kids scream for ice cream. Uh-huh. What’s next? A ban on mega soda servings?
RAVE: I admit, I was not a fan of Scalloptown Park when it first opened.
My ambivalent reaction had nothing to do with its apparently inaccurate name. I don’t have enough sense of local history for it to be the same affront to me as it is to people like Alan Clark, though I appreciate his sensibility that things should be called what they are and not some ye olde name because it sounds quaint or rustic.
It was the suburban landscaped look of the place that I didn’t love. I missed the wild overgrown aspect of the old place. You never knew if you were going to stumble across a deer or an old Mustang car part. But mostly I missed that none of the paths led strollers close to the bay.
No more. On a recent walk in the park, we discovered a trail that led us down to the waterfront, past the as of yet unoccupied osprey nest (they seem to prefer the cell phone signal tower near the entrance to 95South from Route 2), before heading back up to the park entrance. The wildlife hasn’t returned in large numbers, the landscaping still has a lot of growing to do and, as I have said before and I am sure I will say again, there really needs to be a bridge at the end of the park so walkers and bikers can continue on the road to Goddard should the mood take them, but the place is starting to take on a character of its own.
The typical scenario around the country has been that of a cash-poor local government trying to convert an old, unregulated dump into landfill that can be used as a park. All too often, county engineers simply dump dirt on the landfill, plant some grass, and say here’s your recreation area. Then, whatever maintenance is budgeted gets cut when money is tight. But there seems to be a genuine executive commitment to this – and all of our parks – in East Greenwich.
In the coming weeks, many of us are going to be thinking about, if not questioning, the role of government both locally and federally. We hear a lot about health care, education and taxes. But here is one place that our government can and does have a very positive impact on our lives – supporting the space in which we live and making it a more beautiful place.
Not bad for an old dump.