Ice Cream in October
By Gary Rollins
A couple of weeks ago, I confessed how much I dearly loved my job. I knew I could park myself on one of the benches outside Charlie’s Market and, like fishing for trout with worms instead of flies, I knew I was virtually assured of nailing an interesting interview as I contemplated the never-ending stream of tourists disembarking from their Land Rovers and Escalades as they began their brief walking tour of La Veta.
I am a Texan in exile, but I can still talk the talk and walk the walk and could usually make contact and begin the conversation on some level, whether about sports or the weather or the desire of many visitors to just get away from the tall buildings and the steamy pavement and the humidity that seems to be a common feature of many north Texas communities. Did I forget to mention the escape from the heat? Pardon that oversight.
This past week, the chore was more of a challenge. Mother Nature had just done her thing and deposited snowfall that ranged from a low in the low 2o” levels in La Veta to something north of the 30” mark in higher elevations. God only knows how much of the white stuff was dumped on Cuchara. There are still members of the 24/7/365 community who are slumped over their snow shovels.
And so it was that backdrop that found me sitting forlornly on one of Charlie’s benches. The snow was still piled up at curbside and the melting snow was making the trip from the driver’s side of each vehicle to the sidewalk a major challenge. Who wants to risk having wet feet for the remainder of the day just to have an opportunity to spend a few bucks at Charlie’s?
Finally, I hit pay dirt. A big, formerly white GMC Suburban limped to the curb and the driver slogged inside while I tried to think of a clever way to divert him as he headed back for his SUV. His shopping trip was short. Five minutes, max. And he chuckled as I offered a free gift of ice cream in exchange for a few minutes of conversation. His name was George. He called Fort Stockton his home and he mentioned this was his first trip to La Veta. Who, pray tell, wants ice cream in the middle of winter? Well, let’s just say it was actually closer to the middle of October, but who’s keeping score?
George was ahead of schedule and headed for Denver. Some pal had recommended he should definitely stop at Charlie’s Market if and when he found himself in La Veta. And he revealed he had succumbed to temptation about an hour earlier when he saw the cutoff sign on I-25 as he neared Walsenburg. I suspect he did as many do when they find themselves motoring down Hwy 160 and dip down into La Veta to give our fair town/community a quick look-see.
It was cold and a tad windy, so our visit was short. Had there been a place for a nice dinner, he would have stayed and probably enjoyed both a nice dining experience and he’d have spent the night. His arrival time in Denver was not that important.
Of course, it was a time when the dining options were quite limited and although there were places where the fellow could eat, as opposed to dine, I didn’t have the heart to begin to explain there simply were no options this time of year. I wish him Godspeed and asked him to come back next year when the weather was more comfortable for one and all.