ST. CLOUD, Minn. - Among the pizza and bags of mixed vegetables and chicken in Bernie Ostendorf's freezer in St. Cloud lay a wintery treat for her California granddaughter.
"I like playing in the snow. I wanted her to have the same experience," said Ostendorf, whose summertime tradition is to make a snowman with her visiting granddaughter from snow she has saved since the past winter.
This year, Ostendorf had to relocate the balls of snow to another home to preserve them when her power went out during a June storm.
"Every year, we came back in August for a week," said Mari Ostendorf, Bernie Ostendorf's daughter and Cedar Moore's mother.
Six-year-old Cedar doesn't know the words to "Frosty the Snowman," but she had fun making one Friday afternoon in her grandmother's yard while temperatures were in the 80s.
"My mother, every winter, saves snow in the freezer because we live in the Los Angeles area, and so we don't see snow unless we go to the mountains," Mari Ostendorf said.
They carefully laid out the three balls of snow of different sizes for the base, the torso and the head of the snowman, taking breaks to form a plan of attack on how to assemble and decorate it.
"But what about for the mouth, grandma?" Cedar Moore asked after helping to place blueberries that were to represent the eyes, all the while giggling.
They struggled to dig a hole to insert the plastic straws for the arms because the snow was frozen into a solid mass. Cedar had to use the prong of a gardening tool to make any headway.
"Ouch!" Cedar exclaimed with a surprised smile on her face, as her grandmother placed the icy head onto the torso that was later adorned with almonds to represent buttons.
The challenge did not damper her enthusiasm, not even when the torso of the snowman failed to stay on top of the rapidly melting base, making it shorter than intended.
"She enjoyed it when she was 3, when she first started playing in the snow with me," Bernie Ostendorf said. "So that was my reason for making the snowballs during the winter months."
Mari Ostendorf is a wife and mother of two who graduated from St. Cloud State University before ending up on the West Coast.
"Generally, what my mother does in the wintertime is we do an iChat. She takes her computer outside and shows us all the new snowfall because it's something we don't normally experience," she said.
"When I lived in Minnesota, I appreciated it, I enjoyed it, but I certainly appreciate wearing flip-flops in the middle of the wintertime in California."
Cedar Moore has visited Minnesota during the winter once in her young life but still gets a thrill out of the snow when she and her mother return to the Midwest during the summer.
"It's their opportunity to play in the snow together because they don't often get to do that," said Mari Ostendorf, a Minnesota native.
"I think it's great. I think it's exactly what every grandma should be doing: She's creating memories with her granddaughter, and I think that's beautiful."