Musings + Essays

Ice Cream Moments.

By: Jen Shoop

In late December, I was running down West Drive in Central Park when I noticed a congregation of bystanders clustering under a thicket of trees close to the 81st street entrance. Living in Manhattan for three years has conditioned me to expect the worst of such abnormalities, but the tone of the crowd was undeniably festive, even genial. I noticed that people were gesturing excitedly with their thick mittens to a tree branch, smiling at one another, gesticulating wonderment. I paused my music and slowed my pace and then — Well, what the hell? I thought to myself. Curious, I approached and craned my neck, immediately spotting an enormous bald eagle perched majestically on one of the barren branches.

“Isn’t it amazing?” I heard someone say. I found myself smiling and nodding loosely in the voice’s direction.

“This one has been seen in Riverside Park, too,” said someone else.

“Is that right? Wow,” said another, and a shuffling, pleased concurrence rippled through the pack of us. People would peel off, smiling and nodding knowingly at one another, holding up gloved hands in loose gestures of affable departure.

I resumed my run a minute or two later, and when I got home, I told Mr. Magpie:

“Oh man, I just witnessed the biggest ice cream moment.”

Mr. Magpie is routinely moved by people waiting in line for ice cream cones. I first learned this about him when we lived on Armitage Avenue in Lincoln Park in Chicago, around the corner from Annette’s Italian Ice. In warm weather, a trail of wiggling children, families, and the occasional singleton would wind past Annette’s ice cream window down Bissell Street.

“Look at those people,” he would say, as we’d scurry toward the L. “I mean, all they want is a little scoop of ice cream. There’s no ulterior motive there — just pure enjoyment. That’s all they’re after.”

I knew what he meant. Ordering ice cream is guileless, childlike, frivolous in the best way. And waiting patiently in line to order ice cream only underscores the point: “I want this simple treat, and I’m willing to wait politely for it.”

I felt the same surge of poignancy observing those Manhattanites in Central Park that morning. New Yorkers are of the tough, direct, non-meandering ilk. In fact, if I am walking down the street and someone appears to be moving at a lackadaisical pace, I near-instinctively afford him a wide berth, assuming something’s off. New Yorkers tend to keep to themselves, too, out of tempered self-preservation — under normal circumstances, if someone waves me over with a mittened hand, I keep moving. (Trust me, most of the time, you should keep moving.) But here I witnessed a band of city-dwellers stalled and clustered under a tree, collectively enthralled by the rarity of a big bird in our big city. There was no possible trace of chicanery, ill-will, untowardness: just ten or twelve human beings, standing still together, united in the simplest of pleasures.

I needed to see that — to observe the brittle edges of these times give way to the shared tenderness beneath.


+More on living in NYC this past year here and here.

+Thanks to the reader who recommended these Beyond Yoga cropped tanks (on sale in green here!). I bought one of those and also one of these sports bras from Splits59 (they also have a cropped tank style!)

+More fitness finds here.

+Brides rejoice: this is such a chic (Chanel-esque) ivory dress for a shower/luncheon/engagement portrait/etc.

+LOVE this Liberty shirtdress! (Your mini can match!)

+More on showing love to neighbors.

+Random kitchen splurge that has brought me joy for years (purchased before I was married!): an Emile Henry ceramic salt pig. I keep it out on the counter and it makes seasoning a cinch.

+More everyday things I love and 10 things you need in your kitchen.

+Oh my gosh, this personalized scalloped bib is beyond. If you’re having a big smash cake moment with a professional photographer and all that, this is your ticket! (More birthday outfit finds for little ones here.)

+Just ordered micro these cute little jeans.

+Into this top in the paint splatter print with all of my pastel fitness gear!

+A daily check-in worth testing.

+Adorable upgrade to your baby’s closet.

+Smart crib skirt, on sale!

+And this gingham crib sheet is darling, too (also on sale).

+Just the prettiest top, especially paired with white jeans.

+Tiny New Balances for your little man.

+Damn! These Le Monde Beryl loafers are SO chic and marked down from close to $400 to only $82. Why aren’t they in my size any more?!

+Spring sneaks!

+LOVE this credit card holder.

+I still love this tiny detangling brush. Perfect for keeping in a purse / travel.

+Love these evil eye bracelets from Asha as a gift for a friend weathering a storm.

+Upgrading your drinking glass collection? I got you.

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14 thoughts on “Ice Cream Moments.

  1. This idea of the “ice cream moment” is so sweet! I love that you got to see a bald eagle IRL (and in CP, no less!) … so cool. Also, I know that stretch of Armitage and it gave me a twist of nostalgia … I miss traveling!

    I love that Beyond Yoga crop … I will say as a slight caveat that if you are endowed in the bust area, it is cut somewhat low. I personally prefer to wear a tank over it while exercising (though, to each her own, of course!) That spacedye material is seriously the comfiest.


  2. Love the “ice cream moments” sentiment – I know exactly what you mean (and am now fondly reminiscing on such moments in my own cannon of personal history).

    And YES to the Beyond Yoga crop – I’m wearing mine as I type. Enjoy!!

  3. I love ice cream moments!!!

    I had many this summer (when I had the luxury of isolating at my parents’ beach house down the shore) seeing a flurry of dolphins in the water.

    As an aside, my cousin lived on Bissell St while she was in college, right across from Annette’s – I visited her there many times (and got to enjoy Annette’s many times!) and wow – the happiness of people waiting for the ice cream is definitely unmatched!

    1. Oh I LOVE that you know that corner of Lincoln Park! It’s such a sunny, affable spot. You know what I mean about the people waiting for Annette’s!

      Wow, dolphins!!


  4. I had a great moment like this the other day, waiting for the light to cross into the park during my early morning run. Another waiting woman waved at me to get my attention and pointed out how enormous and beautiful the just-setting moon was as it hovered over the horizon. It was such a nice shared moment- just two masked and bundled strangers on a frigid winter morning, having a brief shared moment of awe and wonder.

    1. Oh I love this! I read this just before setting off on my run earlier this morning and was thinking of it as I ran through CP and exchanged courteous glances with other runners. I think we were all in awe of the winter wonderland it was this morning.


  5. So important that we acknowledge and even embrace those “ice cream moments,” don’t you think? Those things that unite us rather than divide us… I’m inspired to keep my eyes open for them this week! Thank you for sharing. 🙂 xo H

  6. Many transplanted New Yorkers see all city dwellers through a ‘me’ and ‘them’ lens. They forget, most people are here from somewhere else. They model their new identities as New Yorkers based on what they’ve seen on TV. But natives share moments on the street with as much whole-heartedness as anyone in any village anywhere, whether by picking up a glove you dropped and chasing you down the street to return it, or helping a frail person across the street, or stopping to admire a natural phenomena like hawks and eagles in the park. We’re all small-town hearts living each day in the Big Apple.

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