birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Ice Cream on the Moon

My first summer in Wyoming was in 1979. The year before in the fall, my parents and two of my nine siblings had moved across the country from North Carolina to the moon, I thought—but others knew this place as Wyoming. My sister Kathleen had stayed behind to go to college in NC, and she joined us for the summer of ‘79. She found a job in the next city, 11 miles away, managing an ice cream store.

I was only 13, but that wasn’t too young to work in Wyoming; my parents just had to sign a waiver allowing me to work. They didn’t love the idea, but they were proud of my ambition.

“You’re so young. You’re not going to want to work anymore by the time you’re 40,” my mother said. As it turns out, she was exactly right.
But I did go to work, doling out 31 flavors to the people of SW Wyoming for several months before the neighboring McDonalds promised a raise in both pay and stature.

Scooping ice cream had annoyances that I hadn’t anticipated. The stress on my wrist and forearm was difficult to manage. Working alone at night was scary. And the pressure of long lines on an especially hot night was almost more than I could bear. “If they want their ice cream, they will wait,” my sister said.

Four decades later, I still marvel at the wisdom of those words.

The Accident Magnet