Editor's Note: Since this was written, the mean cat who used to crouch menacingly on top of the freezer has gone to his reward. Another showed up to take his place as is their weird catly way. And I've changed my mind about the freezer. We eat out of it all winter. But in general I still agree with myself about the uselessness of THINGS -- though it's possible I'd try out Athena Science Pheromones if I got some for Christmas...
By the time I got down to the garden with the other shovel, he had already dug a couple of feet down. “It’s perfect weather for this,” he said. “The soil is like butter.”
He was right. So far the winter had been wet, not cold. The earth was not yet frozen and yielded easily to the sharp metal as I began digging.
“It’s deep enough,” he said.
“I don’t know,” I said. “You want a nice deep hole. You don’t want animals digging it up.”
He ignored my qualms. “Why don’t you go up to the house and bring it down here?” he said. I hesitated. “All right,” he conceded. “I’ll go a bit deeper while you do.”
Sullenly, I did as told. The price of enlisting male help is, at a minimum, getting bossed around. But I’d needed his strength for the digging, and anyway I hadn’t felt I could face this alone.
It was lying on the kitchen floor, stiff and cold. Trying not to look at it, I lugged it out of the house and dragged it down the hill.
“It’s such a tragedy,” he said. “A waste.” He flinched as I started to heave it into the hole but I got on with it. Women are better at some things after all; we can be ruthless when we have to be.
“I don’t mean to reproach you,” he said.
“So don’t,” I said. Then, more gently: “We had to do it. How long were we supposed to go on paying? It was time to cut our losses.”
But he just stood there looking at it, so I grabbed one of the shovels and started angrily pushing in dirt, covering it up. Didn’t he realize it made me sick, too? “It’s not like your hands are that clean in this,” I said.
“I had nothing to do with it,” he said.
“You tell me, then,” Probing the hole with my shovel, I uncovered a small, rigid form and, with a savage jerk of the shovel tip, sent it flying into his face. "Who bought the fish sticks?”
As the Reader has no doubt surmised by now, what we were doing on that bleak and sunless Sunday was: cleaning out our freezer.
Or, should I say, excavating it. Going down through the strata was like being on an archaeological dig. There was the Early Pot Pie Period (Thanksgiving 2001? 2002?), the Middle Corn Years (before I figured out how to tell when it was ripe), and the Neo-Vegetarian Age (when I made seven squash casseroles all in one night ).
All that food! All that gardening! All that cooking! All those electric bills to keep it frozen! And it all ended up in a shallow grave because it was irretrievably freezer-burned, and too much for the compost pile.
Mine is a not a great big freezer. It’s a modest, upright, small-family kind of job, about the size and shape of a dishwasher. It stands in one corner of the kitchen with a cat basket on top of it, so that when you want anything out of it you have to lift off the basket, and usually the cat.
The cat is the most malevolent beast that ever walked the earth. He bites you if you try to stroke him. He licks your breakfast not because he wants it – he hates human food almost as bad as he hates humans – but just so you can’t have it. And he can projectile-pee like something from a Bond movie.
But what am I saying? The freezer fiasco wasn’t the cat’s fault! It wasn’t my husband’s! It’s true that the cat is as sweet and cuddly as Charlie Manson, and it’s true that nobody eats fish sticks who has any choice, they are meant for people in prison or high school. But I could have moved the cat basket somewhere else, and there was only one box of fish sticks as opposed to six squash casseroles.
The fault was mine. With a nightly average of maybe 1.5 people at the dinner table, I need a freestanding freezer like I need a D-cup.
In buying it, I fell into a trap I enjoy making fun of in others. “I want to simplify!” they bleat. “I want to get closer to nature! What can I buy first?”
If you don’t believe me, just go through Mother Earth News, a magazine that, presumably, targets us back-to-nature types. There you’ll find ads for: greenhouses; tillers; tractors; and the VitaMix 5200, a sort of blender on steroids that not only pulverizes vegetables but can turn them into piping-hot soups within minutes, or make ice cream in just 30 seconds.
Yurts. Composting toilets. Incinerating toilets. Mushroom-growing kits.
Did I mention that the VitaMix 5200 can be used as a juicer, or to scramble eggs? It can easily replace 10 household appliances!
The Weed Dragon, “a fun, easy, chemical-free way to kill weeds.” And, unhorticulturally but fascinatingly, Athena Science Pheromones, guaranteed to help you “Get More Affection.”
Here is a testimonial: “Now that I have a steady, which I attribute to 10X, she can’t hardly control herself sometimes!”
What I’m getting at is that we free-market Americans often “simplify” by maxing out credit cards for yet more stuff we don’t need, resulting at best in a place for the cat to sleep, at worst in shallow graves. When really all we need to get closer to nature is a trowel, maybe a hoe.
And possibly the VitaMix 5200. Reader, it can mill wheat!
I know, I know. But the pictures are so pretty, a girl can’t hardly control herself sometimes.