As we get older, the summertimes of our lives fly by all too quickly, both literally and figuratively. As a child, summer seemed to stretch out before me forever, filled with slow lazy days of playing outdoors, swimming at the Canton pool, eating popsicles and catching lightning bugs in the early evening dusk.
By Rebecca Johnston
As the song says, summertime and the living is easy.
When you are young, the start of school — the intrusion of real life — appears so far away, just a small dot on the landscape of warm afternoon breezes and slow afternoons reading a favorite book or just doing nothing at all.
No matter how wonderful and deliciously relaxed summer feels, though, reality is just around the corner.
For me, summers were made more exciting because of my next door neighbor, Cissy Jones. Less than two years older than me, she always seemed so much more glamorous, fun to be around. She had a horse, went away to camp, had a whole roomful of dolls and always offered exciting ideas of games to play.
With her beautiful red hair, infectious smile and face covered in freckles, she was lovely both inside and out.
Later, as we grew up, married and had our own families, we continued to be best friends in every way, watching as our own children grew up and enjoyed the same kind of summers we did as children.
In November, Cissy, or Mary Jones Cloud Ellington as she became, died after a long, tough fight with cancer.
I think back to the times when we were children, when life and summer seemed infinite, and I reflect on how quickly it all passed.
But the memories we made are as happy and warm as the rays of summer sunshine piercing through the trees, and I cherish every one.
Cissy loved homemade peach ice cream. When I think of her that is one of the first thoughts that come to mind. As young families, whenever we had get-togethers she always came prepared to churn up an ice cream maker filled with fresh peaches and other ingredients and transform them into a delectable confection of ice cream. She wanted to make special memories for us all.
Another of her signature recipes was cream de menthe brownies, and her recipe is featured in the Service League of Cherokee County’s cookbooks, “League Legacy” and “Cherokee Entertains.”
As League members together when we were young moms, we both got to help with the cookbook. One of the most fun parts of the book was the section called Cooking with Children. All of our children participated with kid friendly recipes such as chocolate chip pizza and purple cows.
Cissy was always the photographer of the group, snapping shots of our families, our children and our lives, as time seemed to speed by in a kaleidoscope of images.
Life was not perfect, don’t get me wrong, and there were many, many tough times. But when summertime comes and the fireflies come out and the gardenias bloom and mint flourishes around the back door, I remember Cissy and when living was easy.
I am thankful for those memories, as sweet as the taste of homemade peach ice cream, and as fleeting.
Here is Cissy’s recipe for homemade peach ice cream:
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 can Eagle Brand milk
½ pint whipping cream
1 pint half and half
Milk to fill to full line
Put all ingredients into ice cream maker, add ice and salt, and churn.
I usually try to buy my peaches at a road-side stand or one of our fabulous farmers markets in Cherokee County. What could be easier or more fun? I hope you make some sweet memories of your own this summer.