After months and months of reviewing desserts, this will be my first critique of a less than stellar ice cream flavor. I hesitate to post a critical review, but I have decided that dessert choices are not immune to disappointment, and there's probably no point in pretending otherwise.
Today I tried the Carrot Cake ice cream from JP Licks. I used it in a sundae, with hot caramel and whipped cream, thinking that caramel would pair nicely with Carrot Cake ice cream. The pairing was fine, but the ice cream was not. I think I expected a nice, sweet-cream based ice cream, with perhaps cheesecake flavoring, tiny pieces of carrots, maybe some graham cracker gratuitously thrown in. In actuality, it was like eating a chunky piece of carrot cake which had magically been turned into ice cream--and not in a good way. There were giant pieces of carrot. The carrot was crunchy. There were large raisins. I think there were nuts but I can't be sure. The ice cream itself was pretty good--it seemed to be a cinnamon or nutmeg flavored ice cream. But all of the chunky pieces were just too much. It's odd and unsatisfying to get a mouthful of smooth ice cream, whipped cream, and caramel, and find yourself munching on a piece of carrot. In the end, I was left scooping the caramel from the sides and avoiding the ice cream refuse in the middle. The caramel, thankfully, was quite good.
Yes, every now and then you get a dessert that disappoints. And similarly, life can disappoint us, at many times and in many ways. No one said it would be easy, right? I find that the older we get, the more difficult things can seem. Struggles appear and multiply, within our own lives and those around us. It's at the most difficult times that I have found that the small moments are the most important. It's easy to overlook them, especially when things are darkest. But the small moments are always there, and they can keep us going, even if you have to look hard for them. Especially when you do.
For me, the small moments that bring comfort are things like taking the dog out into a quiet backyard and looking at, really looking at, the leaves on the trees. Seeing an elderly neighbor with white hair, just like my paternal grandmother had, lovingly tend to her garden. Dancing with my kids at an open air concert under the stars. A good conversation with my sister. Taking a moment to do something for someone else who is hurting. These things can bring peace and momentary escape from whatever clouds your mind.
A few years ago I was at a family party, which turned into something of a family reunion. Many of us had not seen each other in years and it was great to catch up and connect again. I ended up spending some time talking to a cousin who was in the midst of a very difficult time. I told him that I felt that things get harder as we get older, and that we have to celebrate the good moments as they come and hold onto those. He looked around at all the family members in the room and said, "This is a good moment."
It was one of the last things he said to me, as he passed away not long after that day. I hold onto the fact that we shared that connection during our conversation and that he felt the happiness and warmth in that room, as I did. I am thankful that he had that moment.
As we go through life, especially as we age and become the ones who bear the weight for others, we have to look for those moments. Celebrate the good in each other. Enjoy the leaves on the trees, warm socks, the laughter of a child, a dazzling blue sky. Relish a really good cup of tea, a beautiful song, a warm hug, a heartfelt conversation. And if your ice cream sundae disappoints, well, enjoy what was good about it and go get another one. There's plenty of sweet things in this world to keep us inspired. Just keep looking.