The old latch clicked as I popped the lid open

Heather Hagedorn

Chapter One

Ancestors

The old latch clicked as I popped the lid open. 100 years and my great-grandfather's trunk, which had traveled with him from Sweden, was still intact. It was green, not from age but from the paint my Grandma Dotty had applied in the 60's to make it "chic." The smell of old wood and leather wafted to my nose as I dug into the years of family history my mom decided I might enjoy meandering through.

It was the old pictures that caught my eye first; the faces, now faded with time, stared up at me, trying to tell their story. The ghosts of family members long forgotten were awakened. Digging through the trunk again I came up with more artifacts, not just pictures but my great-grandfather's razor and my great-grandmother's black, lace-up shoes. Beneath the shoes was a bowl. Large, heavy and ceramic this bowl had been my great- grandmother's. It had probably been used a million times and now it sat in my lap. Along with the bowl was a cook book; it was filled with marked up recipes, comments about whether the food had turned out, what could be changed and what she didn't like about it filled the margins. The writing varied from English to Swedish making it difficult to read, but that didn't bother me. The worn Swedish cookbook connected me to my great-grandparents and to a generation long past.

A sturdy sort woman stood in front of a sturdy mixing bowl; her simple navy skirt contrasted sharply against her sturdy white linen apron. In fact, the whole scene was sturdy. The walls were made of sturdy oak and the tables and chairs were sturdy in their rustic simplicity.

A well worn cookbook lay open in front of the woman; its pages were stained yellow, both from age and multiple spilled ingredients. Yet, though the book was open the woman's hazel eyes never touched the page. Her hands moved quickly, adding ingredients without a moment's hesitation. The usage of measuring utensils was superfluous as she casually poured in the flour. A white cloud erupted from the bowl, sending flour particles into the air. The miniscule particles drifted aimlessly then, finally, settled onto her honey blonde hair, which was piled carefully on the crown of her head.

With an irritated brush of her hand she swiped at the powdery substance and smeared a streak across her cheekbone in the process.

"Anna Matilda, you are making a mess of yourself." She muttered as she mixed the ingredients together. Swen was going to be in soon and she needed to get supper on the table. She could already hear the girls coming in from school, their childish laughter ringing through the open windows. She smiled at the sound and went to the door to greet them. Wiping her hands on her apron she opened the door, but, instead of her three daughters she found her husband instead.

His long, lean frame filled the doorway and his azure blue eyes met her hazel ones. Before a word could pass between them the three girls Anna had originally come to greet came barreling through the doorway. Each girl wore her hair in tight braids; though Dorothy's had come distressingly disheveled. The cause of her bedraggled look was evident; Dorothy had her finger wrapped tightly around her right braid, twirling it as she looked up at her parents- "me-me and pe-pe" – as she insisted on calling them. All three heads were the color of summer's hay, a result of their parent's Swedish origins.

All three Swenson girls stopped to smile up at their parents and deliver a polite greeting before rushing into the house. Anna shared a smile with her husband, who gently wiped the flour off her cheek before he placed his arm lovingly across her shoulder and lead her inside. The door closed soundly behind them, closing out the evening's chill and closing in the warmth of her family.