Ice Cream Soup

Oh, what a happy day! Some of the grands were coming over, last seen two weeks ago before their out-of-town friends had come to visit. Hurrying to get ready, Nana hoped she would hear the doorbell ring. Blissfully waiting, she started writing imaginations of the day, “what-if’s” begging to be penned.

Pancakes. She would cook pancakes for breakfast, with grapes, or perhaps cut oranges. And oatmeal for the one who disliked pancakes. They would have such a great time, catching up on all the details of life since their last visit. She might even be booted out of the kitchen if the oldest insisted on cooking the pancakes herself. How had such a tiny little girl grown big enough to wrangle hot pans and spatulas already? It was uncanny. Nana still could neither wrap her mind around, nor capture, fleeting time. And speaking of time . . . where were that family? Were they driving up the hill yet?

There! There! She heard the bell ringing as she turned from the bathroom mirror, lipstick on, meds taken, ready to welcome them in. “Mom, mom!” a voice called. “Nana’s in here!” A flutter of tiny hands grabbed her close, patting her face, voices whispering while fingers hugged her arm. They were here, these darling ones. She had not seen them for so very long, so very long . . . “Mom, mom!” The voice was closer, shaking her gently. “Mom! Are you ok?”

She was still floating a bit, diaphanous mists swirling around, as she listened to her family through the fog. Sitting on the floor, back against the dresser, she had indeed melted like oozy caramel into a soft lump. “I, I heard the bell. I was coming to let you in,” she managed to say, words sticky in her mouth. “We waited and waited, Nana! We had to come in through the garage!” a young voice piped. Thankfully they knew the code. They were finally here!

A bit confused about their confusion Nana allowed herself to be helped to her feet and assisted to the couch. Immediately three grands snuggled close to her while her daughter asked questions. It seemed the lapse in time had been very short, indeed, and though she was waiting results of a recently worn heart monitor, she would need to tell her doctor of this new experience. She felt fine now; her breathing was ok, her vision had cleared. It seemed all systems were working. Meanwhile, she had pancakes to make and a long overdue visit to enjoy. A little sinking onto the floor was no big deal, was it?

“Ding dong ding! Ding ding ding!” The doorbell rang its happy chime and Nana quickly put down her writing. The grands were arriving to spend the day “at Nana and Papa’s house.” It was so hard to put aside her thoughts when a story started in her mind, but put aside she must. “They’re here! They’re here! And I have pancakes to make!” They greeted Papa outside the door, then tumbling in hugged Nana closely, all grinning at each other. “Have you had breakfast yet?” “No!” “How about pancakes?” “Yay!” shouted two. “I don’t like pancakes,” murmured one. “Would oats do?” “Yes please, with apple and cinnamon, butter and maple syrup.” “Can we help make pancakes?” asked the younger two. “Of course!”

As Papa left for a short errand, out came the spatula, pan, and pancake makings. Yes, today was going to be grand! No sinking Nana, no turning into caramel, but just having fun. “Can I help flip the pancakes? I’ve never done that before.” “Can I flip pancakes, too?” “Absolutely!” “And we have to have salted butter with the syrup.” “Ok.” “Have you ever tried applesauce on your oatmeal? It’s yummy! Want to try it?” “Uh, ok.” Breakfast preparation was a blast, pancake flipping the star attraction. Apple sauce on oatmeal was less of a hit, though one of Nana’s favorites. “Duh! I forgot! We have regular apples. Is that what you wanted with your oatmeal? Yes? Sliced?” “And almond milk, please.” “I want water.” “Me, too . . . water.” So the morning went.

“Boy, it smells pretty good in here!” Papa exclaimed coming through the front door. Do I smell pancakes?” “You sure do! Extras are just waiting for you on that plate by the stove.” “Thank you!” A few minutes later . . . “Mmm! These are tasty!” Though everyone, almost, had been a-flutter about pancakes – pouring, cooking funny shapes, and flipping – every ear perked up at Nana’s next announcement: “And guess what! Today we get to make ice cream, too!”

The new ice cream maker was at the ready, just waiting as four sets of eager hands prepared the makings. First order of business: fill the blender with almond milk, cashew butter, and maple syrup (certainly not a low caloric blend). Divide and conquer. Each of the three grands plus Nana found the right utensils, measured and poured, dug the stiff cashew butter out of the jar, then set the blender to “whir!” A yummy light caramel color with fragrance hinting of chocolate, the frothy mix promised deliciousness. All four ice cream connoisseurs waited expectantly as the mix was poured into the ice cream maker, the top locked, and the electric timer set to twenty minutes. Around and around went the paddle, the churning began, while fingers and spatulas scooped out the tailings in the blender. No way could melted ice cream be wasted, or not tasted!

A bit past lunch time the churned ice cream was at soft-set stage. Tummies just empty of pancakes, why not ice cream for lunch? Apparently today was a day for “go with the flow.” Who could wait four hours for the yum to harden? Not this gang! Out came bowls and spoons, and in short order all were enjoying fabulous ice cream soup. “Oh, my! This is soooo good!” A few banana pieces in each bowl added a little treat, though none was needed. “Hmmm, maybe a bit of chocolate syrup next time,” one of the grands mused.

Fully satisfied the four snuggled on the couch for writing stories and reading time. Papa’s idea of a movie and popcorn came later, at just the right moment, the end of a chapter. Movie selected, popcorn popped, snuggling again, all five watched Son of Bigfoot. It was such a joy to just be together, no big extravaganza planned, just an ordinary family day. Having fed the grands oats and pancakes for breakfast, ice cream for lunch, and popcorn for a snack, Nana sincerely hoped they would have more green food for dinner. One can only subsist so long on oats, pancakes, ice cream soup and popcorn, even though it all was, “Mmmm – delicious!”

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