As dusk became full darkness, I saw the bright streak of another meteor. They are appearing almost every night now. I don't think any proper meteor showers are scheduled currently, so they must be strays. Shortly after last evening's sighting, the clouds thickened, and they have obscured most of the sky since, as well as holding in the day's heat. Though it is moonless tonight, I can dimly see the pale shapes drifting across the darkness. It is a nice change from the familiar field of stars, and quite serene. I have listened for the sound of thunder rolling from the higher mountains, but have not heard it, nor have I seen any cloud patches briefly flash with the glow of lightning. But this is the sort of weather when that does often happen. I've heard that night time summer lightning storms in the high Sierra can be spectacular, but I've never been there when one occurred.
There have been a few occasions when storms broke over the town, and the small, hunkered houses would suddenly be slashed again and again by stark shadows of surrounding tall trees as the lightning flashed, and the thunder would roll over the steaming pavements and echo through the dark rooms, the furious winds driving sheets of rain sideways, but such storms must be even more impressive when seen from amid the crags and rocks, the tumbling streams and towering firs of the high country. I'd like to see that someday.
But tonight is quiet, and the houses remain obscure, barely visible under the dim sky, and the shadowless trees jut jagged darkness heavenward, where a single star might wink for a moment now and then before vanishing behind the endless river of drifting cloud. A storm would be nice, but this is nice, too.
I have iced black cherry tea. It's a good thing.
I'm running out of ice cream, though. In the last few days, I've downed most of that half gallon of Dreyer's butter pecan. Today I read an article in The Sacramento Bee that got me thinking. The article is about a Sacramento ice cream parlor owner named David Leatherby, well known locally for his many contributions to charitable organizations, especially those operated by the Catholic Church. A current object of his largess is a movie being made about Saint Therese of Lisieux. Mr. Leatherby has a bit of an obsession with this particular Saint.
I began to remember other people in the ice cream business, and how many of them had obsessions of one sort or another. When I was in high school, I sometimes patronized a place in Alhambra, California called Leo's Ice Cream. It was a very successful local business, but one day the owner simply shut it down- not even bothering to sell it as a going concern- and emigrated to Australia. I later found out from one of his former employees that he did this because he was convinced that the United States was going to be taken over by the Communists within five years. It turned out that, in those days, a belief in an international Communist conspiracy that was on the verge of success was a common foible of people in the ice cream business. Why so many of them were drawn to that particular obsession, I don't know. But the owner of another parlor in the area (the name of which slips my mind) was a major contributor to the John Birch Society, an organization dedicated to exposing Communist subversives such as Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy who were working for the destruction of the United States. The McConnels, who owned the most popular ice cream parlor in Santa Barbara were deeply involved in the same organization. As a lifelong fan of the ubiquitous frozen confection, over the years I have visited many ice cream parlors, and in those days it was not uncommon to find bits of anti-Communist literature available from small racks set next to the cash register in many of them. I don't know if the same phenomenon could be observed in other parts of the country, but in the suburbs and small towns of California, it was all but universal. Even the two owners of Baskin-Robbins franchises with whom I was acquainted were contributors to the cause, although the corporation with which they were associated would not allow them to make any display of the fact on their premises. They had to content themselves with the prominent display of an American flag.
The belief that Communists were secretly in control of the White House, the Congress, the Supreme Court, and most major corporations is now archaic, of course, but it looks as though the purveyors of ice cream have continued to display a tendency toward obsession. Mr. Leatherby's outsized devotion to an obscure Saint is but one of the instances of this which I've heard of in recent years. Similar stories crop up in the newspaper from time to time. I recall one a few years ago about an ice cream parlor owner in a nearby town who was still fighting the good fight against subversives, but had switched enemies from Communists to homosexuals, and he promised that a large percentage of his profits would be contributed to organizations devoted to thwarting the imminent success of the homosexual agenda, the intention of which is to turn all America's children gay. Another ice cream parlor owner in the northern Sacramento valley is said to be a major contributor to the cause of exposing the government's secret communication with space aliens, and its nefarious activities having to do with Area Whatever-it-is in the Nevada desert. And of course we all know of Ben and Jerry's obsessive dedication to various causes of a more leftist bent.
So, I have to ask myself what is the deal with ice cream? What is it about freezing cow's milk that attracts so many people with obsessive personalities? Do they develop these obsessions, or even paranoid delusions, more frequently that the rest of the population because they consume so much of their own product? Is there a conspiracy of the cows? Have the bovines learned to secrete into their milk some kind of obsession-inducing mind control substance which is activated only when it is chilled? Are cows even of this Earth? Could their entire species have been taken over by super intelligent aliens bent on our destruction? Was Gary Larsen trying to warn us? Is that why they shut him up?
As I lick up the last of the cold, smooth, creamy Dreyer's, I realize that my insight into this phenomenon has given me a special responsibility. I must dedicate my life to exposing the ice cream conspiracy! I swear by Saint Therese that the cows shall not prevail!