When I was six years old my class participated in a track and field day at a neighboring school. It was a bus trip away and the spring day was hot and sunny [a rare weather condition in that Northern area]. Being frugal, my Mom had packed me a lunch, which I devoured between running events [I was a fast sprinter in those days, with two good ankles working smoothly beneath my shins].
As I walked around the school yard I saw two girls from my class eating Popsicles. “Where did you get those?” I asked eagerly. “Over there,” one of them pointed with her yellow, banana Popsicle. I hurried over and stood in line. But when I arrived at the cooler the man said the Popsicle was 5 cents, which I didn’t have. I had to walk away without a treat.
5 cents! It was not a lot even in those days, but it was more than I had with me. As I stood in the sun far away from home [for a six year old] I decided that I would never again leave home without money. I would never be the one who couldn’t buy a Popsicle.
|3 million Popsicles are sold every year. They were invented in 1905 by 11 year old Frank Epperson, who waited 18 years before releasing it as a product to other kids. Wikipedia||Every Popsicle is two treats in one. My favorite is still orange, which still almost rhymes with porridge.|
From that day on I have had a progression of coins in my maturing pocket. As a boy it was a nickel (for candy). As I learned the fun of comic books I had to carry more: 15 cents (for reading). For many years [before cell phones] I carried a quarter for the pay phone (for safety). Today, despite being armed with my wallet, twenty dollar bills and credit cards I still carry a one or two dollar coin [Canada’s loonie and toonie] (for coffee, parking, or any of the preceding).
When I buy Popsicles now I am usually buying a box of 24 chocolate ones for my wife. Because there is the second lesson I learned from that schoolyard: that sharing is a joy. And sharing food with others is a particularly wonderful joy.
My Mom, who packed my bag lunch for that track meet long ago, has created meals and a caring environment for our family and friends all of our lives. She understands how hospitality and sharing are a vital part of human community and joy.
Had those two girls with their Popsicles known what my Mom knew, or if the man presiding over the cooler full of Popsicles had thought about more than money, then all sorts of ways could have been found to share in the cool and delicious fun that day.
As anyone who’s had a Popsicle will tell you, they are made to be split in two. Like all great food they are made for sharing.