Every day, after attending
Trinity Academy Primary School in Edinburgh, Scotland, I had to walk
through Victoria Park to get home. In winter, the walk home was
treacherous and bitter cold. Even though I wore warm gloves, a hat, and
heavy coat, the icy wind penetrated them like they were made of paper,
turning my flesh red with the cold. The streets were covered with a thin
layer of glassy ice, causing me to slip with nearly every small footstep I
took. Ice carpeted the grass and it crunched when I walked across the top
of it. Sometimes the gutters were snow-covered and I stepped into them, my
feet going down into three inches of hidden slush that ran into my shoes
like an overflowing bathtub.
On days when it rained, my
school uniform would be saturated. The gray skirt and socks, black shoes,
yellow and gray tie, white shirt and gray sweater, would soon start to
emit a damp wool smell, which is not a pleasant one. My long brown-hair
pigtails that had been lovingly tied with pale yellow ribbons hung like
ropes tied with dead worms.
When springtime came
everything was different. The walk home was glorious. Bright yellow
daffodils and glossy red tulips lined the paths. Ladybugs, with their
black dotted wings, flew from blades of green grass to newly budding
leaves growing on trees that had stood for centuries. Bees buzzed by
carrying pollen, matted on their legs, and butterflies fluttered to
wherever saw color.
The most enjoyable thing
about walking home in spring was when Mr. McGregor set up his ice cream
cart in Victoria Park. Each day, I’d sit at my desk in school, waiting
with anticipation for the time when I could leave. I was often agitated by
the wait, and my teacher, Mrs. Kirby, would have to discipline me for not
sitting still. My outward appearance would seem to quiet right down,
sometimes I’d even put on a frown. I’d hide the mischievous glimmer that
was normally in my eyes, but inside I bubbled with anticipation and
delight as I watched the minutes pass on the clock up on the wall.
Each morning my father gave
me enough money to buy myself an ice cream at Mr. McGregor’s cart. Each
afternoon I’d run through the park and stand at his cart, looking into the
freezer, trying to decide what I would have. There were so many choices to
select from - ice cream sandwiches, chocolate-covered, vanilla, ice cream
bars, cones filled with ice cream and covered with nuts on top, and two
cookies (or biscuits as they are called in Scotland) with vanilla or
chocolate ice cream stuffed between them. But my favorite treats of all
were the banana popsicles. They were creamy and delicious and I always
picked them over anything else. Mr. McGregor knew that no matter how much
I pretended that I might get something different, I’d always take a banana
popsicle. He’d always make sure he had at least one in his cart for me.
Sometimes he ran out of other things, but never those.
I’d take it out of the
freezer and peel the clear plastic wrapper off, always being careful to
put it in the little bag Mr. McGregor had hanging on the cart for rubbish.
I’d hold on to the stick and raise the creamy yellow treat into my
watering mouth. I could smell the banana flavor before I tasted it. When
my taste buds finally caught the sensation of deliciousness, I would smile
and go ‘mmmmmmmmmmmm’. Mr. McGregor would always laugh at my excitement
over a mere stick of creamy ice.
Many years have passed and
still, whenever I eat a banana popsicle, memories come flooding back into
my mind of springtime, Mr. McGregor, Victoria Park, and Mrs. Kirby.
Somehow though, the popsicles tasting much more delicious back then.