“I was not prone to drastic actions. I did not rush into the unknown. After fifteen years as a more or less effective lawyer, I approached decisions with a certain caution. I not only weighed the pros and cons but also examined all likely consequences and reasonably foreseeable risks. Looking back, I wondered what could have prompted me to take those initial steps down a path that would alter the course of the rest of my life armed with only an optimistic hunch and knowledge that turning back was not an option.”
Minnesota-born lawyer Jeff and his partner, Dean, enjoyed a successful and fashionable life in London. They shopped at Harvey Nichols, walked their dogs in Kensington Gardens, and vacationed in France and Tibet. Yet, they dreamed of a new life. In January, Jeff was promoted to a coveted position at his bank; in March, he resigned. Jeff and Dean sold their house, packed the dogs, and moved to the sleepy resort town of Hayward, Wisconsin, where they acquired a nostalgic ice cream shop and a rundown Victorian mansion.
Scoop: Notes from a Small Ice Cream Shop is the chronicle of Jeff and Dean’s first year in Hayward—how they are welcomed by a collection of colorful characters and how they are humbled by the challenges of operating both the ice cream shop and a bed and breakfast. It is also a story of Hayward and how the traditions and the stories of those who built the town helped our entrepreneurs adjust to the rhythm of life in their new home.
“Could two successful London businessmen, one with Minnesota roots, solve a midlife crisis by moving to Hayward, Wisconsin, a small town in the north woods near a chain of pristine lakes? Could they really rejuvenate an aging ice-cream parlor and also turn a dilapidated Victorian mansion into a luxurious B&B? Jeff Miller’s charming, affectionate, and very realistic story describes how he and his partner did just that. Miller has a wonderful grasp of detail, from telling how to make ice cream (and invent unusual new flavors) to finding valued friends among the often idiosyncratic, determined, and hardy townspeople who live in this sometimes harsh, but also stunningly beautiful, environment. Miller is humorous but never patronizing, and the ending is startlingly poignant.”
Susan Allen Toth, memoirist and author of Blooming: A Small-Town Girlhood and Leaning into the Wind
“Jeff Miller is a modern-day explorer, leaving urbane London to run a dairy and B&B in Hayward, Wisconsin. The big-hearted story he tells is about being brave enough to embrace change—even when it involves Muskie Festival parades, lawn mower races, and learning how to make ice cream that’s ‘Almost Sinful.’”
Lorna Landvik, author of Oh My Stars and The View from Mount Joy
Jeff Miller was born in Browerville, Minnesota. He spent years as an international lawyer in New York, Hong Kong, and London. Since 2005 he has lived in Hayward, Wisconsin, where he operates West’s Hayward Dairy and McCormick House Inn.
Available May 2014 from Minnesota Historical Society Press
$17.95 Paper, 356 pages, 5 1/2 x 8, 978-0-87351-943-4
$9.99 e-book, 978-0-87351-944-1