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by Esther J. Perne
OK, here's the scoop: It's summer and it's acceptable to splurge on ice cream. Better than that, it's downright expected. Why else would there be so many ice cream stands so crowded with such happy adults, children and dogs openly enjoying bigger, better, more towering, more exciting cone and dish fulls. And why else would ice cream be so easy to find?
There are no secrets where ice cream reigns. Of course, there are little secrets like keep a metal spoon hidden in the car for faster consumption, sit beside the child with the smallest appetite who will need help, or offer to share an order with a slow eater or one who is not passionate about your favorite flavor, which you will, of course, order.
But big secrets? No. There are no secret ice cream locations like there are fishing holes or fiddlehead patches or wild berry picking trails, no secret servings, no secret handouts, no secret cameras, don't we hope. Where there is ice cream the word gets out. If it doesn't, it's just like computers — ask a child. ("Do you mean the place we went after soccer or the one you promised when I had shots??")
Of course, there are names for these places brand names, location names, owner names, cutesy names, but by any name they are the same — the place where you get ice cream which is so astoundingly logical that it's hats off to The Ice Cream Place in Smithfield.
Where there is ice cream, there is also a size and flavor maze that in Maine definitely one-ups the game of trivia. Sports teams, almost every type of berry, outdoor themes, moose, and caribou (of which there are none in Maine) figure high. With a little luck during a lull in the line you can obtain samples of some of them (but not in that metal spoon you have hidden in the car).
As for size, think dish. Dish under the cone, dish over the cone, dish empty or full it's the best chance for catching a tipping, dripping cone overflow of ice cream, which is to say every size is bigger than you would ever expect.
So, how about that perfect cone? Wherever place, whatever flavor, whichever melting size, there is no cone more perfect than the cone of the moment.