Epically rainy, chilly weather aside, yesterday marked the Summer Solstice – the official beginning of the summer – but, for most people on the Cape, Memorial Day weekend is when our summer season starts. Traffic increases, seasonal stores (shuttered for the long winter months) reopen, and everyone girds themselves, with mixed emotions, for the tourist onslaught. (Please note the charming bumper stickers on local cars and trucks such as, “Tourists – Can’t Live with Them, Can’t Shoot Them”). Ever since I was a kid, I have looked forward to Memorial Day weekend. And not because it meant the warm days were coming and school was ending, but because, in my young, sugar-fueled mind, it meant my Mecca of childhood joy, Four Seas Ice Cream in Centerville, was open for the season. Every year, since 1934, come Memorial Day, Four Seas Ice Cream has been serving, in my humble opinion, the best ice cream on Cape Cod.
If I may be so bold as to make a sweeping generalization, New Englanders tend to be ice cream obsessed. And why not? You can’t swing a lobster around here without hitting a cute homemade ice cream stand or shop. Even my handy Cape Cod bicycle map notes where you can find ice cream along our beautiful bike trails. Others have journeyed deeper into the local ice cream scene than I have ever dared. Three hearty souls sampled 50 New England ice cream spots over the course of two weekends. (I’m simultaneously nauseous, envious, and impressed with such a bold, slightly masochistic, adventure.) And another couple have a fantastic blog about all the vast and various places you can score some frozen sweetness throughout the Cape and islands. I’d advise everyone to check out both blogs, but I don’t need to. Call me a sentimental fool, but I’ll stick to my childhood love – Four Seas ice cream. Housed in a ramshackle building that hasn’t changed an inch since I’ve been going there, Four Seas ice cream is the third oldest ice cream shop in New England. Their ice cream – homemade in the back room of the store – is smooth, creamy, and exceptionally flavorful. My favorites are Black Raspberry, Peppermint Stick, Peach (but it’s not quite peach season yet, so it isn’t available until later in the summer), and Butter Crunch. They also make killer sundaes, due to their superior hot fudge sauce.
With the rain somehow mystically blowing in horizontal sheets along the ocean and with the wind causing shards of tree limbs to clutter the roads, I decided I needed to get a taste of summer today, so I headed down to Four Seas, got my ice cream, sat in my car, and tucked into a cone of Butter Crunch. If I closed my eyes, and turned the heat up in my car, it felt like summer had arrived.