Brown, burned grass blades were glazed with ice throughout my family’s farm fields and through the trees a crackle could be heard in the evergreen branches. In the barn, our white-faced Herefords were staying closely huddled, avoiding the rainy cold. Opening the door, I set to work laying feed upon the concrete floor for them to soon munch upon. Outside, the wind continued to pick up. Finishing up a last chore, I headed back to the house, making my way to the cellar door below the main foundation of the house.
Taking off my coat and hat, I heard my grandparents chatting on the second floor. As I made my way up the stairs into the kitchen, I was greeted by my grandfather. “Well, hello there, Michael,” he said in his cheeriest of voices. My grandmother smiled and I smiled back. I made my way to the island of the kitchen and found a chair close to my grandmother. “I cannot believe all of the ice that is out there!” I said exhaustedly. My mother, who was busily fixing dinner, looked over and brought me a cup of tea. “Here, have a Cranberry Square; I made them for you guys,” my grandmother said as she handed the tin over to me. She paused for a moment and began to gaze across the room. “I cannot believe it,” she exclaimed as she rose from her seat and headed to the bay window of the kitchen. “Grandma, what do you see?” I said as I turned my chair in her direction. She said nothing; then she chuckled a little. “Well, I will tell you, what I just saw was something my mother told me about many years ago. I used to think of it as just a story, but maybe they were real?” and with that she began a story.
Winter was never a bother to the folks of Donbridge; in fact, winter had a great many benefits to the town: for the ice from the ponds was harvested each year to sell in the summer months, the paths were clear during the heavy blizzard months by way of a berry patch that ran along the roads of the town and most importantly, supplies were always plentiful in the town from their endless storage caves that the town had built over two centuries of digging and preparing.
One winter, the temperatures stayed mild and this panicked the townsfolk for many of them looked forward to the first ice and, of course, many local towns knew they would need ice in the coming summer months. But for the town, the temperatures remained warm right through December until something dreadful happened.
The temperatures dropped steadily after the first of the new year and as they did, the ground, because it was dry, began to crack from a lasting drought.
As January continued on, the temperatures continued to freeze and so much so that when February came, the first moisture in four months began to fall. While most figured it would be snow, they found themselves quite wrong. It rained and rained and rained and rained and with the ground so frozen and dry, the rain had nowhere to go so it stayed upon the surface. And to make matters worse, a quick cold spell came through and all of the rain froze solid. The entire town became encapsulated in ice that was nearly a half foot thick. Many people were trapped in their homes and stuck in their barns as the doors were frozen shut.
On the second evening of the great ice glaze of Donbridge, something strange happened in the town square. Many townsfolk recalled seeing a woman in full deer skin clothes walk into the center of town while others thought her to be a spirit. But whoever this person or creature was, it was said that from a satchel she pulled a large wooden box. Kneeling down upon the ice in the center of the town, this woman opened it and out poured red flying bugs no bigger than fireflies. As the swarm moved about the town, the ice on every building began to melt, and soon the town began to thaw. As it did, the fireflies slowly began to disappear and, in a miraged mist, the woman disappeared as well, leaving the town thawed.
When my grandmother finished her tale, I was in awe. “Grandma, what did you see out the window? Was it the fireflies?” I questioned as I ate another Cranberry Square. “You never know, Michael; it might have been or maybe the headlights of a car far down the road,” she said with a smile. Just then my father entered the door of our house. “Well, the temperature outside just warmed up, and the ice is melting,” he said as he banged his shoes upon the floor mat. I looked to my grandmother and went to question her again, but she was off talking to my grandfather and, for that moment, I thought it best to leave the subject be.
Grandma’s Cranberry Almond Coconut Squares
2 cups of baking flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 14 oz can condensed milk
1/2 cup of baking flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup of cranberries
4 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup of almond slices
• Preheat oven to 350°
• Line a 13X 9 baking pan with parchment paper
• Make sure the parchment paper goes up the sides of the pan
• Mix flour, brown sugar and salt and stir in 1 cup melted butter in a large mixing bowl
• Pour and then press onto bottom of prepared baking pan
• Bake until light brown
• Cool on a wire rack
• Reduce oven temp to 325°
• In a second large bowl, mix the filling ingredients until blended
• Pour contents over the prebaked crust
• Finally, sprinkle almond slices over the top
• Bake until light golden brown
• Cool, cut into squares, and serve