Saturday, February 21, 2009

Ice Cream Expedition

Tomorrow is my husband's birthday and we're celebrating tonight with a family dinner with my mother-in-law, after which he and I will go to Mills College for a concert.

This afternoon I needed to walk for exercise and my husband needed a break from the kids. Come on guys, I said, let's walk to Loard's and buy ice cream for Daddy's birthday dinner! They scrambled to put on their shoes.

We live about a mile away, since Loard's is technically in the Bret Harte neighborhood. Junior high students from our area walk there daily to the school across the street. In my childhood, everybody above the age of five was expected to walk such distances as a matter of course, to go to school, to visit friends or the library. Now we think it's "too far for the kids," but if we were on a family hike we would expect them to walk two miles. We took side streets, avoiding MacArthur Boulevard almost entirely.

If you're local, you know Loard's. The MacArthur @ Coolidge location is funky, even ratty-looking, and quite bare in decor at this point. But the ice cream... mmmmmm. Some Yelp reviewers claim it's better than Fenton's. I don't know, but it's good.

If you are in Orinda, you can enjoy your ice cream in a more refined atmosphere - the Loard's there has kept its 50s pink-and-white decor spiffy; it's probably what the Oakland location looked like fifty years ago. Whatever. We burned some calories and got some fresh air on our walk, and my kids enjoyed the time with me.

When you walk through the neighborhood you see the flowers in bloom: daffodils, plum and magnolia trees, irises. One neighbor's snow peas are heavy with pods that hang out of the fence over the sidewalk; many neighbors are blessed with abundant orange, lemon and even kumquat trees.

Also, more benefits of walking to the store - we met two children selling candy bars for the Laurel School, and ended up springing for three chocolate bars. I figure the kids deserve some chocolate at the end of such a hike. They each got a square on the walk, a square at home, and we're saving the rest for another day. I'm glad to contribute to the Laurel School's playground equipment fund.

Community happens when you take a walk.

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