We had an ice cream social at church Sunday evening and I volunteered to bring some homemade ice cream. When we were kids we often made ice cream in the summer. With our own milk cow we had an abundance of cream and it was probably a good way to keep us busy for 30 minutes (or longer depending on how into it we were) with all that cranking.
My brothers and I marveled at the saltwater spilling out of the overflow drain; gave up on cranking and got Dad to do it; chased the dog out of the saltwater; asked 68 times if it was ready yet; tried to see through the cloudy lid to the ice cream forming inside; and generally found it impossible to wait another minute.
Finally, Mom would slide out the dasher covered in luscious, vanilla ice cream and we would argue over who got to lick it. Somehow the ice cream was SO much better directly off the dasher. Then we’d hand around bowls of soft, melting goodness. I don’t remember toppings or even adding fruit or flavoring. It was just sugar and cream and yummy.
So the first time I made ice cream with my husband, I didn’t understand why he took out the dasher, put the lid back on the canister and began packing it all back in the tub with more salt and ice. He wrapped the tub in towels and set it aside. I asked why in the world we weren’t eating our ice cream.
“It needs to ripen,” he said.
Turns out if you pack the ice cream away in salt and ice for a couple of hours it gets just as firm as the store-bought stuff. Who knew? I still got to lick the dasher and hours later we had real ice cream. I was amazed.
I so often do the same thing with my writing. I finish a poem, an article or, ahem, a book and want to share it immediately. Look! It’s done–dig in. But like the ice cream it’s going to hold up better and last longer if I give my writing some time. Time to ripen–to be edited–to mature. Patience, it seems, is a virtue when it comes to frozen treats and the written word.
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