Saturday, December 20, 2008

Selling ice to eskimos

Chauncy Dibble trudged through the snow this morning with a grocery cart packed with a card table, paper cones and bottles of syrup. He believes that today, in the aftermath of yesterday's blizzard, is snow cone weather. "The raw materials are here for the taking."

He set up shop at the intersection of Lithgow Street and Talbot Avenue, not the busiest place for automobile traffic but pedestrians travel back and forth between Codman and Peabody Squares, either to pick up sundries on Washington Street or to catch the T at Ashmont Station. Mr. Dibble unfolded his card table at 9:30 expecting to tuck a tidy profit into the pockets of his down parka. "Sure you can just bend down and scoop up a handful of snow," he said. "I add that little bit of tropical sweetness that makes you forget you're in New England. When you eat a cone, you're happy to have the snow."

Mr. Dibble has an array of bottles on his table: Pomegranate, Mango, Passion Fruit, Watermelon, Sour Cherry, Pina Colada, Banana-Raspberry, Guava, and Clementine. We happened upon him at 2:00 this afternoon while he was filling two paper cones with snow from the sidewalk and drizzling one with Passion Fruit syrup and the other with Guava. Minnie and Millie Blackstone were his customers and both said they would never have thought of enjoying a snow cone today until they saw Mr. Dibble's display. "He's very convincing," Minnie said. "I'm really looking forward to the rest of my walk to Walgreen's," Millie said.

Chauncy Dibble explained that he chose his location because the intersection of Lithgow and Talbot is protected from the splash of plows and passing trucks so the snow retains it virgin quality throughout the day. He is armed with an oversize serving spoon that he uses to pack the paper cones from a pile he keeps replenished from nearby lawns and walkways. He says, "The neighbors don't mind me harvesting their snow for profit. I promise to keep the paths to their front doors clear and they wish me well." How's business? Mr. Dibble is coy about the numbers but he did remark that he expects his children to have a happy X-mas this year.

The Guava cone tastes like real guava.

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