Raised on an Appalachian farm, my mother would speak of her family’s beloved milk cow while raising my four sisters and me. She’d stand in our suburban kitchen, pour Twin Pines milk into our glasses and say, “This o’ runny milk can’t compare to what I grew up on.”

After a lifetime of gains and losses, Mom at last returned to her McCoy Homeplace, alone, and a bit forgetful. The farm’s barn, plow horse, pigs, chickens, beehives, and milk cow she remembered had long vanished.

Yet, when she added cream to her morning cup of coffee, memory flashed in her eyes. She looked to me and said, “When I was a girl, Dad would skim the cream off the milk and give it to me to drink.”

Now, my Grandpa Floyd McCoy went to Glory before my birth. Therefore, without photos and my mother’s and uncles’ stories of my maternal grandfather, I’d own little knowledge of him.

Thankfully, that summer I visited Mom in her homeplace, also my homeplace the first four and a half years of my life, I harvested much family history. There, I gained better understanding of my devotion to my McCoy-O’Brien heritage, families who lived and intermarried peaceably along Peter Creek.

I also came to understand my mother’s fondness for anything rich with cream. A “good custard”, as Mom would say. Especially frozen custard.

Come summertime, Mom retrieved her ice cream maker from the basement, washed it, and filled our freezer with ice. In obedience to her recipe, she eventually filled the ice cream maker with the sweetened cream, sugar, egg yolks and fruit of choice. She then carried the machine outside for turning.

She often invited our Kentucky relatives to join the fun and share the ice cream. Dad often took home movies of the event, usually a hot and humid gathering on the garage patio.

After what seemed hours of my sisters and me turning the cream and refreshing the ice, Mom at last lifted the lid to the most delicious, cold creamy flavor. She smiled, and said, “It’s ready.”

I remember banana as my favorite. Mom preferred pineapple.

With Mom’s example, it seemed natural to provide an ice cream companion to serve with the lavender brownies I baked for family, friends and farm visitors. So, I called Cook’s Farm Dairy in Ortonville to inquire if they would make lavender-lemon-honey ice cream for me.

“Sure,” said Tom, the ice cream maker. “You provide the lemon zest and lavender.”

Twenty years later, I’m driving to Cook’s Farm Dairy this afternoon with a cooler. There, I’ll pay my bill and fill the cooler with another batch of Yule Love It Lavender-Lemon-Honey Ice Cream.

Dear Reader, such delicious traditions are healthy remedies to sweeten bitter and lonely places in our lives. They encourage us to sit face to face with family and friends.

Share what God has given us, and thank Him we have the freedom to do so.

Contact Iris at irisfarmletters@gmail.com