Reconnecting with the inner child: summertime bike rides and ice cream cones

Ah, the Seven Sisters behind some Hadley farmhouses. So beautiful!

Exercise is FUN.  Don’t forget it!

I know what you’re thinking: ICE CREAM?!  Did she just say ice cream??

Well, yeah, I did.  Get over it.

I know I’m a nutrition person.  I know ice cream is loaded with saturated fat and sugar.  But I know something even more important than all of these facts: ice cream is a summertime essential that brings back memories of my dad bringing me for a cone after soccer games, of sitting on wooden picnic tables and licking furiously to try to keep the rainbow sprinkles from melting off my soft serve twist and dribbling down my fingers in the hot summer sun.  If I was too concerned about being perfect with my eating, I’d miss out on some seriously good-for-you nostalgia. You can be as fit as you want, but without smiles, you’re really not well.
So yesterday after a moderately productive shift working in the Wellness Center, Kari and I hopped on our bikes and went for a ride.  The weather has gotten much more conducive to outdoor exercise here this week, not as hot and significantly less humid.  But that’s not why we were biking.  We were on a mission: an ice cream mission.  Not far away from the gym in Hadley there is a farm that raises registered Holstein cows for their milk, which they sell raw and pasturized, and make into some seriously delicious ice cream.  In the early spring they even have a flavor, Hadley Grass, that they make with asparagus.  I’ve missed it the past few years but I’m determined to try it in 2012, and when I do I’ll update you all on it.  Anyway, for those who haven’t explored the country roads in Hadley, it’s incredible.  Cook Farm is right off Route 9, easily accessible via the Norwottuck Rail Trail, but seems like it’s miles away from any shopping center.  Rolling fields surround the barns, and in the near distance the Seven Sisters watch over the patchwork of small farms with that soft and distinctive profile I’ve grown to love.

We rode there like little kids, giddy with the fresh evening air.  We even looked the part in our work clothes: black spandex capris, Kari in a bright pink top, me in purple.  If only we had our hair in pigtails.  We talked, we laughed, we experimented with swinging our legs as a means of propulsion.  We saw bunnies, some muskrat/beaver/woodchuck looking things, and a fox.  It was all an adventure, and we appreciated every second.

Once we got there, we both tried several flavors to find the perfect one.  Kari settled on Inez, a Cook farm specialty flavor with coconut base, chocolate chunks, and almonds.  I went with s’mores: chocolate and graham base with graham crackers, chocolate chips, and a marshmallow swirl.  We licked our cones in adirondack chairs with a beautiful view of the setting sun and the cows that supplied the milk for our treat just feet in front of us.  It’s times like these that I just stop, look around me, take a deep breath and smile.  Life is good.

So what’s the moral of the story?  Be happy!  Live a little!  Appreciate what is around you.  Whether it’s a sweet treat, a good friend, or a relaxing bike ride; there’s pleasure in everything and it’s up to you to make the most of it.  Our ride was only about 10 miles, but at least it was a ride, and we had a more meaningful experience than just going out to bike for fitness.  Sometimes it takes a little something extra to reinvigorate your workouts; or on the flip side: a little workout to enhance your fun.  So every now and then, don’t be afraid to indulge.  It’s good for you.





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