The Boy leaned his bicycle against the trunk of the yard’s biggest pecan tree. He walked to where the Old Man was squatting on his heels, turning the handle of a contraption that whirled as it grunted and ground. Ice cubes rubbed and popped while salt melted them to slush. Within, the machine churned a magical batter through its inner workings to render homemade ice cream.
They found themselves laboring in one lane of the gravel drive because, his grandmother said, if they worked in the yard where it was more comfortable, the saltwater runoff would kill her plants. Rather than arguing the likelihood of such, they simply did what they’d been told. They knew they could be right or they could be happy, and so had chosen the latter.
“I want to hunt elk when I grow up,” the Boy volunteered. “I want to camp out high in the mountains and chase elk all day. I’ll need to get a big revolver to carry in case of bears, and I’ll need a good tent because sometimes it’ll snow.”
“That sounds good,” the Old Man said. “Meanwhile, I heard you were planning to do some deer hunts this fall with your cousin. What will you need for that?”
“I think I already have all I need for that, I guess,” the Boy said. “I haven’t thought about it much.”
“Well think about it while you turn the ice cream,” the Old Man said, rising. “It’ll give you something to rest your mind on while you work.”
The Boy swept off a smooth spot in the gravel and went to one knee. He couldn’t squat the way the Old Man did and didn’t try.
The handle on the ice cream maker spun freely. It would be a while before it was ready.