We had the house on the hill.
Years ago, when we lived in Atlanta, our house was that corner house — and because of that hill, when we would get our annual two inches of snow (that would of course melt the next day), it was to our house that all the neighborhood kids would come to sled.
We had sleds, you see. Having moved from The North – St. Louis — we were fully equipped for the annual twenty-four hours of ‘hard winter’.
My husband and I would wake early, seeing that the storm had come and quickly did an inventory of our kitchen: was there enough hot cocoa for at least two dozen? And what other goodies were to be had?
And if they were to be had — could I make them into something wonderful?
Over the years, at dawn, I would make brownies, cupcakes, using any and all ingredients that I could find, knowing there would be fun and fabulous children who arrive — and over time would be cold and hungry from sledding on our hill.
One year, in my pantry, I found flour, eggs, gummy bears, applesauce, orange juice, pudding, powdered sugar. Knowing what I know of kitchen chemistry (or not!) I combined it all, poured it all into a roasting pan and — (tada!) — snow cake.
By ten in the morning the kids began to arrive. Sledding on our “northern” sleds, on their makeshift sleds, on their bottoms, laughing and shouting and calling, they were a sight to see.
We loved every minute.
After about an hour they began to pile into my house. At least a dozen pairs of socks now going round and round in my dryer, followed by at least a dozen pair of wet pants..
The legs associated with such pants were covered in our pajamas, our sweatpants….now sitting at the long kitchen table, sipping cocoa, eating snow cake.
It was, perhaps the best cake I had ever made. And accidentally. Our guests were beyond happy. As were we.
The cheeks and noses were red: theirs.
The eyes were shining: ours.
The magic of the Atlanta snows lasted only one day — and some years they didn’t come at all.
But they were a window into a wonderful world: the world of children and their excitement, their fullness, their energy.
Since those years the kids have scattered, in fact, we scattered and moved to the Real North where snow lasts for months.
Last year, one of the young men died accidentally.
I flew back for the funeral. I found them all, all those little faces, red and shining…
Now in grace and grief.
They were the same little people whose snowy socks went around and around my dryer.
But older now.
Sobered by life — and loss.
But those years we shared of the magical snows were something to behold.
Memorialized by the memory of life — and a cake made from applesauce, gummy bears and pudding.
Leslie Coff writes and makes all manner of Snow Cakes, now in Madison, Wisconsin.