As soon as my brother, sister and I saw the first snowflakes of Winter, we would begin asking; “Can we make snow cream?” My dad always answered the same, “No, not from the first snowfall, you have to wait.” So, on the third or fourth good snowfall, we would get our snow cream. We loved it, gobbled it up and went back for more. My mother would make a big batch for us. After mom’s initial batch, we’d grab a bowl and make it for ourselves. It was simple; snow, milk (or half and half), sugar and a little vanilla. I loved sucking the sweetened milk through the crystals of ice. It’s not a frequent memory, but it all came rushing back as my daughter and I were were looking out the window at the world of white. I heard; “You said if it snowed a lot, we could make snow cream.” When did I ever say that? Oh well, my little girl could have had that filed away for years. I knew I had used up the last of the vanilla, but the snow was deep and freshly fallen. So, off we went to purchase some vanilla and gather up some snow.
We went to the edge of civilization, which is pretty close to our home. The deer are the only ones who play on the baseball field. We were warming up back home when I realized the vanilla had disappeared. While I was out retracing our steps in the snow, my daughter found the bottle of vanilla in my purse. It was right where I had left it for safe-keeping. Luckily, our snow was still nicely frozen and we got on with the mixing and the eating.
The hardest ingredient is the clean snow. If I think too much about it, I’m unable to eat it and wouldn’t be able to feed it to my children. Because of that, it is a rare treat. It’s been ten years since I last made some. I believe it was a pregnancy craving when I was living out towards the country. There has to have been a lot of snow and it has to be collected away from the city. Even then, I can get queasy knowing it fell through the atmosphere to get here. At this point, I tell myself it can’t be worse than any of the other chemicals I breathe and ingest, eating snow every great once in awhile isn’t going to kill me.
I had the impression this delicacy was a carryover from my mother’s childhood. I had learned from my father how to eat the inside of young birch twigs and how to make chewing gum from the sap of a sweet gum tree. So, where did this dessert of nature come from? I had my daughter call her grandmother and listened in as my mother told the story of the first time she had eaten snow cream. The cleanliness of the snow wasn’t a factor when my mother was a 6yo in the pristine mountains of Virginia. While her father was laid up from an explosion in the coal mine, she remembered a heavy snowfall had trapped them inside. The fence posts couldn’t be seen and my grandmother’s attempt to trudge to the communal area where their cow was kept had failed. She was forced to turn back as the snow was up to her shoulders. Afterwards, my mother watched as her mother opened the back kitchen window and reached out to scrape snow into a pan. She had the attention of her children while she added in the ingredients and served it out in bowls. My mother said “we kids thought it was delicious. I asked about the cow and she said, her mother probably had to wait until a neighbor came by to help, theirs wasn’t the only cow that needed milking.
It was a fun day. My daughter devoured the snow cream. She ate so much it made her cold. Perhaps, someday she’ll be able to make it for her children and tell them the story of the first time their great grandmother ate snow cream.
Lily Doe has written for ImperfectWomen.com since 2009. She has never been shy about sharing her opinion and enjoys writing on a variety of topics. Her life’s focus is sharing good times with family and friends.