The happenstance of happiness. Did you grow up during a time when many things in your lives involved people coming to your neighbourhood to sell? Did you grow up having to go to market regularly; if not to market, then perhaps to the bread shop, or the butcher’s on a regular basis? Did you have to milk cows or goats before you went to school. Did you have to walk to fetch water? Did you look forward to your aunts visiting and wondering what outrageous hat they would wear? Did you fall from trees, which your parents had told you not to climb?
We all have our special memories of our childhood, and they are what frame our lives. There’s nothing profound about that, but it’s very important, especially when it comes to which ones you try to bring back and share. It’s also interesting, and important, which ones just filter back into your thoughts, seemingly at random, but are special because they remind us of things that seemed to just happen and come back to us to put a smile on your face.
I woke this morning with images of London in the 1960s running through my head, in particular, horse troughs. I’d mentioned this seeming oddity over dinner a week or so ago, and it so happened that I found some good pictures and discussion about how they had come into being and how they had stayed. Many are now lovely ornamental flower beds, and few may recall or even imagine them being filled with water and seeing horses drinking from them. I do. I also remember dipping my feet in some during hot summer days.
How I got to think about ice trucks in Jamaica, I have no real idea. But, I did. Maybe, it was the thought of summer heat. I remember the excitement that rose as the sound of the truck came closer, and people would run out into the streets with their containers–usually, enamel basins–to get their chunks of ice. The men with their ice picks, chipping off the chunks or blocks to meet the orders. I remembered, briefly, the old joke about the boy who was sent for ice, but found it had melted by the time he got home and how he had to run back to the ice truck and complain about what he had been sold.
In line with the constant idea of things cold, I thought about lining up for ice creams, sold from a van, and made by a local company in west London. Little hands stretching up to the window as a big hand stretched out for money and handed over a cone of deliciously simple vanilla ice cream, sometimes covered with chocolate or strawberry syrup. Sometimes adorned with a bar of Cadbury’s Flake. Sometimes covered with sugary sprinkles. Different time. Different place. Different faces. But happiness comes any way it wishes.
With all these thoughts, as I woke, I went downstairs to catch my family seated in the kitchen, eating cinnamon rolls and drinking hot chocolate. My daughter acknowledged my greeting, then continued her Facetime chat with a class mate. “Good morning,” I said to the girl on the screen; she smiled back. I wrote a check for a bill and got ready ran to the 100 yards to our mailbox in my pyjamas. “Time me,” I requested. It was freezing cold outside. I saw joggers trotting along the road, properly dressed for the cold. Ignoring me, for sure. All of that too, will become memories. Good ones? Fleeting ones? Signature ones? Ones that bring smiles?