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Published: Thursday, 3/24/2005

Ice cream can ease almost any situation

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. - Who could argue that ice cream isn't soothing on a hot summer day?

But the sweet confection has year-round benefits, and one of them is stress relief. This advice is not from dear Dr. Good, who only recommends carrot and wheat germ smoothies, but from personal experience. My latest ice cream "medication " is worth sharing.

On St. Patrick's Day I woke up early, wished Digby a happy day, tied the green scarf around his neck, and made sure my new green linen blouse was pressed and that the matching earrings were nearby for a big night out on the Escapade gambling boat.

From that point it was all downhill until five hours later, when I turned off busy A1A on Amelia Island and parked in front of the welcome sign, "Ice Cream.

When I told the man behind the counter "I need ice cream. It's not that I am hungry for it, I need it," he, of course, was cordial. It was his store and I was the only customer there on a cold, rainy afternoon. Sure enough, after eating the double dip, chocolate, cherry, and vanilla cone my headache was gone and I had forgotten the $100 spent at a beauty shop and the worst Jiggs dinner I had ever seen or imagined.

Forgetting the $100 is of course an exaggeration, not only because this is my next to last stop on a two-month Florida road trip, but it's big money any time. How many times do I have to tell myself "on the road" beauty shops often are not like the ones back home. Nevertheless, it didn't seem like the time to get out the orange rollers for a do it yourself job for a St. Patrick's celebration when I might be the big winner at blackjack. Thus an appointment for color, and for a haircut and style was made.

The very young beautician did a great job on the color. It is almost as I remember it to be when I was her age. The style was another thing. When she left it straight as a string after blowing it dry, I screamed. If a curling iron is used, it's another $10. I went for it. It is still straight as a string.

Then there was the tip for the young mother of 2-year-old twins whose husband is in the military and is at sea as a nuclear engineer on a submarine. Easter candy for the children, stamps for letters to the husband, I thought.

Next door was a restaurant window was filled with leprechauns and shamrocks and an ad that the special was a $7.15 corned beef and cabbage dinner.

And what three sides would you like, the waitress asked? A choice of side dishes is as common as sweet tea in the South. One side that will forever be remembered on future St. Patrick's days is the creamed white corn - it was shamrock green. Sure enough, the cook had dumped green food coloring into the white corn. What he didn't stir into the corn he added to the cabbage and potatoes, making them as green as the corn.

So how much green did I win on the St. Patrick's day gambling boat trip? None. The reservation was cancelled because of the cold relentless rain that showed no signs of stopping. Bundling up in a raincoat and carrying my Mickey Mouse umbrella to stand in line to buy the ticket didn't sound like a lot of fun.

One day's diary is not a reflection of the whole trip. Digby and I have had a grand and glorious time since we headed out on Jan. 20. We have stopped in 11 cities for a night or for a week. The 12th stop will be Aiken, S.C., for the Steeplechase on Saturday. Then it will be home sweet home.



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