One of the many things that June has going for it is that it has been designated as National Dairy Month. It actually has a lot of month long celebrations and I have been falling back on them in those times when I can’t figure out what National Day to celebrate. Today happened to be Turkey Lover’s Day but I had just celebrated Turkey Lover’s Month only last week, so I didn’t want to repeat myself in the course of seven days. It was also Go Fishing Day but it was a foggy, raining, grey day which can be good for fishing, but wasn’t very motivating for me especially when I had a small window to get out there with rod and reel. The more obvious celebration today was that it was Father’s Day, but my father died 19 years ago, so it’s not exactly a day I break out the streamers and balloons. I came to the conclusion that celebrating National Dairy Month would be the solution.
It’s not like I didn’t think of my Dad today. It’s hard to avoid the thought of Father’s Day if you spend any time on Facebook. You see pictures of all your friends and family posting pictures of their “Old Man” and it makes you remember yours. My dad was never one for big Father’s Day celebrations outside of a nice lunch or dinner and the typical Father’s Day gifts: English Leather, ties, a nice hat – the usual. He’d be appreciative and be happy to be around the family. But it was never a big day. Still, you miss your Dad on days like this. You yearn for that one more day together. You want to hear his laugh, heed his advice and feel his arm around your shoulder. You just miss him like you do whenever you think about him. Had I celebrated Go Fishing Day, I would have been thinking of him even more because he was the one who first took me fishing. I recall the time he took us out in the canoe and we found a spot where really big fish were literally popping up to the surface to be caught. We didn’t have our gear with us but we vowed to wake up early the next day and come back. I’m not sure if we ever did but in my mind, that spot was always my Dad’s special fishing spot.
We went fishing when I was older once. I was in high school, I think. We rented a rowboat and went out on the local water supply, Lake Saltonstall, which had just been cleared for limited fishing by the local authorities. Before that it was off limits to any type of recreational activity. I always remember feeling like a tough teenager heading into the day, but mid-morning, when the current picked up on the lake, it made rowing really hard and I was suddenly not so tough. My Dad pulled us through and his show of strength and calmness in that situation always impressed me. We didn’t catch much that day excepting a few sunfish and a very large snapping turtle (which my Dad handled getting off our hook and out of the boat). He was kind of a natural in the water (my Dad, not the snapping turtle, although I suppose he was too). I guess I missed my Dad today. I wish I could have gone fishing with him.
I worked most of the day today but on my way home, I realized that we needed milk so I had to stop. I decided that this was the perfect way to honor National Dairy Month. There are few things in our house that will create panic or urgency if we run out. Milk is one of those (along with coffee and toilet paper). There is nothing worse than waking up and discovering you are out of milk when you go to make your coffee. Even though you can always run up the street to Dunkin’ Donuts or even to the local gas station to get milk, if you aren’t planning on it, it throws off your whole day. That’s why so many quick stops to the grocery store begin with the five motivating words of “we are out of milk.” It’s also why grocery stores put the milk in the far back corner of the store because they know you’re coming for the milk. They gotcha, so might as well make you walk through aisles of temptations to get what you need. You can almost talk yourself out of stopping at the store for anything except for milk. No bread? I don’t need the carbs. Nothing for lunch? I’ll buy lunch tomorrow. No water? I got a whole tap full of water. But no milk? I better stop.
I ended up stopping at CVS. CVS is one of the only non-grocery store places that carries organic milk. Lola prefers organic milk so I try to get it whenever I can. The other items on our list that we needed with urgency were coffee and shampoo, so CVS offered the convenience, value and savings I was looking for on this particular scavenger hunt. Had I been making dinner, I would have stopped at Clements and done my shopping there, But we had decided to order out tonight, so CVS was just easier stop. I picked up everything I needed and then headed on over to the local Chinese restaurant to pick up our dinner order. The idea of Chinese food was perfect to me especially after a long day of work. It was good food and no need to cook. Chinese was actually Lola’s idea and when she suggested it, I knew it was a small tribute to her father whom she was missing today as well.
Lola’s dad died about five years ago. Father’s Day was a big day to him and to her family. It was a day when all the kids would try to get together for brunch or dinner and celebrate him. He would revel in the spoils of a whole day dedicated to his honor and he would usually spend it doing what made him happy – working on the rocks in his yard, riding his motorcycle, and spending time with his family. And eating too. He savored good food and he was a particular fan of Chinese food. He got the whole family hooked on it. So when Lola said she wanted to get Chinese food for dinner tonight, I realized that it was a small nod to the memory of her dad. When I came home, she had a playlist of his songs playing on our Sonos. It was a nice way to channel him. He had an eclectic music collection that ranged from the absurd, silly songs to the classics of yesteryear to Broadway and even modern songs that tickled his fancy. Lola was missing her her dad today too.
After our feast, it was late but I still wanted to pay homage to the sanctity of National Dairy Month, so I decided to have some ice cream. I had picked up some Ben & Jerry’s Americone Dream at CVS (that place has everything) so I was ready for a nice little dish. It was humid out and I was still hot from working all day, so it was a nice little respite. Americone Dream is a personal favorite of mine, especially from the B&J line. It is vanilla ice cream with fudge-covered waffle cone pieces and a caramel swirl and it is named in honor of his eminence, Stephen Colbert. It’s the waffle cone pieces that makes it. It’s all the joy of a cone without the mess of it dripping in your hands. I scooped it into a coffee mug. Sometimes ice cream is perfect when it is served in that vessel. It’s the handle that sets it apart so you don’t get cold hands while you are eating and it’s easy to maneuver. It’s also a good size too. Sometimes when you are faced with the vastness of a bowl, you tend to scoop out a little too much. The coffee mug curtails that.
Having the ice cream tonight made me think about what I was doing ten years ago at this time. That was the time leading up to our wedding and we had the idea to make our table assignments for the wedding go by Ben & Jerry flavors (i.e., you’ll be sitting at the Chunky Monkey table with Uncle Guiseppe). To do that, we had to have 15 different flavors of the ice cream for our 15 different tables and to accomplish that, we actually had to buy the pints of ice cream. Once we had the ice cream, I scanned in the lid and then blew up the image so they would work as table signs. Our wedding was in August, so in late June of ten years ago today, our freezer probably had 15 pints of Ben & Jerry’s inside. It was a tough sacrifice, but we made it through the bunch. That was my random memory of my indulgence in dairy for National Dairy Month.
At the end of the day, I know this wasn’t the grandest celebration out of the 320 days I have celebrated. It is what it is. Still, I took time to honor the spirit of dairy. It’s really a big part of our life. It’s the milk in our morning coffee. It’s the milk we add to our scrambled eggs (are eggs dairy?). It’s the cheese on our sandwich. It’s the cream in our Americone Dream. It’s an important food group. We know there are haters out there – the intolerant folks – but there are the lovers out there too. Love always win, especially in the dairy section. That’s what I celebrated today. I only wished I could have enjoyed my ice cream with my Dad.
Next up: National Martini Day