Summer Snow

Isabella Rowan

Isabella Rowan

The Mississippi summer heat had settled onto campus like hair stuck to damp skin. I step into the musty cool of the mailroom and there on the floor in front of the student mailboxes lay a brown paper package. Even from the doorway I easily recognize the slant and flourish of her handwriting.
I hug this treasure from my grandmother as I climb cranky wooden steps to my room. Girls dorm. Second floor. End of the hall.  
The brown paper falls to the floor. A cardboard box recycled from my grandfather's warehouse. Tenacious gray duct tape. My impatient search for scissors.
The box opens to billows of tissue paper. I press my face into the fragrant white and breathe deeply of spearmint and Estee Lauder; picnics at Lake Superior, a trio of dogs; fresh stalks of rhubarb and bowls of sugar; birch and pine.
I remove the white cloud and lay it gently beside me. There lies an envelope so thick the flap barely sticks. A handwritten letter – five pages. Both sides of the paper filled. Teeny writing added in the margins. So much to say.
And photographs. Polaroids of something indistinguishable. Several pictures all the same. Oh, Gran, what's this? Something black with large wet splotches.
A freak snowstorm. In June. Only in Northern Minnesota. Thick, fluffy snowflakes like cotton balls falling from the sky. Hugging summer leaves. Hiding summer sun. Muting summer sounds up on the hill.
Look, granddaughter, see how beautiful! I'll catch some on black paper and take pictures so you can see.
It snowed all afternoon. Three whole inches. In June. I could hear the child-like lilt in her voice. See the soft wrinkles adorning her Native eyes like the velvety doeskin puckers on Ojibway moccasins. Her face illuminated.
There's something else in the box. A heavy tin round and red. I pry off the lid. Cookies!  Not just any cookies – Christmas cookies!
Cinnamon sticks. Mexican wedding cakes. Stained glass windows. Golden rosettes dusted with sugar. Snowmen and reindeer. Frosting and sprinkles. All nestled carefully between layers of wax paper. Cookies baked from scratch with love and longing.
 My grandmother, serenely industrious, mixing and rolling, cutting and baking as she gazes out her kitchen window possessed by the summer snow. Remembering Christmases past. Dreaming of Christmases yet to come. Reaching through summer and fall and deep into winter trying to pull the seasons right side out to draw me close and bring me home.

Isabella Rowan has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and a master’s degree in library and information science. She is the adult programs coordinator at Delray Beach Public Library and enjoys planning unique library programs and teaching ESL.

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