One evening when I was five years old, I straddled the split-rail fence that guarded our yard from the road. As I perched there with all of my five-year-old grace (which is to say, very little grace whatsoever), I suddenly tipped forward, landed face-first on pavement, and knocked out my two front teeth.
When the metallic-tasting blood had stopped flowing but my tears had not, my mother must have given me a glistening popsicle to ease the throbbing of my gums. It is what mothers do at times like those.
It might have even been a popsicle she and I had made together. We had plastic popsicle molds I loved to fill with fruit juice. I also loved to ask, at twenty-minute intervals, if they were ready yet. I wished for a contraption that would freeze foods as quickly as a microwave could heat them. I couldn’t wait for that sweet fruit taste, so cold it made me shiver. What I loved most was the cold juice that would pool in the tray at the bottom and that I would tip back into my mouth in one shot.
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Before long, my mouth healed, leaving me with the classic kindergartner’s gap-toothed smile.
A few months later, after dinner one evening, I was swinging on our swing set when my dad settled on a swing beside me. I listened, pushing my tongue through the strange hole between my teeth, as he told me that we would be moving. I told him that I would much rather stay in New Jersey, thank you very much. I already had friends and memories and beloved teachers here. My dad explained that we couldn’t help it. He had a new job, and it was in a different state, called Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania? The name made me picture the sharp yellow pencil I used when I wrote stories in kindergarten.
My dad gave me the assurance that I would make new friends in Pennsylvania. My mother gave me a popsicle.
On the first day in our new home in a subdivision in West Goshen, PA, I wheeled my new purple scooter out of the garage and whipped circles around the cul-de-sac. Soon, a five-year-old girl whizzed down her driveway on a bicycle. We wheeled our bike and scooter around the circle, asked each other questions, and giggled with glee. My new friend Kristin was kind, smart, funny and as beautiful as Pocahontas. We were soon giving each other “best friend” necklaces in the shape of two sides of a heart.
Many evenings, our mothers gave us popsicles. Not to comfort us this time, but just because we were kids and it was summer and we begged for them.
Those evenings of bikes and giggles and popsicles lasted for three summers. Then my family moved away from the cul-de-sac, and then Kristin’s family did.
A couple years ago, over dinner at a tiny Mediterranean cafe, I had the chance to catch up with my best friend from childhood. We hadn’t seen each other since we were fifteen. “That’s half our lifetime ago,” we marveled. “How did we ever get this old?”
We were now so mature, in fact, that we didn’t even think about having dessert. We’ve moved from the life stage of receiving popsicles to the life stage of divvying them up among children. It’s a good place to be, full of memories of the way family and friendships have carried us through scrapes and transitions.
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This recipe uses simple ingredients and tastes nice and fresh! It’s a great way to use peaches you froze this summer!
- 3 peaches or 2-3 cups frozen peaches
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- ¾ cup orange juice
- Blend in a food processor until smooth. Fill popsicle trays. Freeze for about 3 hours.