“Summer was our best season: it was sleeping on the back screened porch in cots, or trying to sleep in the tree house; summer was everything good to eat; it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape.”
– Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
As an adult, it is all too easy to reject summer’s embrace like a young child squirming away from the inescapable hug of a dreaded relation. We often look wistfully over our shoulders at the mild winter typical of our climate and at the beautiful but all too short spring. The expectation of summer vacation each May was eroded long ago for grownups by the indiscriminate call of the office without consideration of the time of year, and on top of that, famously hot Columbia always lives up to its moniker.
And yet, there is no erasing the sweet nostalgia of long summer days, the singing of crickets and frogs at twilight, the bliss of a dip in the water, the smell of freshly cut grass after a rain, and the savory bounty that summertime harvest brings in the South. Reliving childhood joys like making peach ice cream on the porch on Sundays, wearing the brighter color palette of a summer wardrobe, and taking the time to read good books in the heat of the day are all charms that can be revisited both in the golden shrine of memory and again in reality.
In this issue, we have gone full tilt into the joys of summer, both those of yesteryear and those to be enjoyed this year. On page 28, our own Muffie Wells journeys back to her childhood to the old tradition in her Columbia neighborhood of each home ringing its dinner bell to call children home from a day’s romp. Oh, the simplicity of a world where kids could safely spend the whole day outside, unattended and unrestricted. Similarly on page 24, publisher Emily Clay revisits her summer memories of camp shenanigans with childhood friends like Frances Mills. Happily, these experiences still continue year after year by each successive generation, and we are lucky in Columbia to be in such close proximity to so many amazing camps.
Summer would be a banal time indeed without the juicy savor of a fresh tomato or the tender taste of summer squash. Enjoy Jim Casada’s reflections on this time of year and the peerless flavor wheel it ushers in on page 94. For those who want to make good use of the preeminent summer kitchen tool this year, turn to page 74 for frozen drink recipes that will keep your blender humming.
And for anyone who wants to make a new, exotic family memory this summer, turn to page 62 to learn about Eudora Farms — the Midlands’ very own drive-through African safari and petting zoo!
Whenever the heat feels like it’s just too much this July and August, try to stop and remember that Southern summer days are the essence of life … and of golden memories.