My freezer is a jumbled mess. Half opened bags of frozen fruit, a random assortment of leftovers once thought worthy to occupy space to be eaten later at some point ( I don't know when and they inevitably get thrown out by me, the person who froze them in the first place during a mad purging spree.), 2 hotdogs in a ziploc bag and other essentials such as coffee and ice cubes for cocktails, it's all in there. I also have trash in my freezer. This idea I stole from my mother, Val. Meat wrappers that would otherwise end up all over the yard before trash day, chewed to bits by neighborhood dogs and raccoons are now safely hidden away and smell free while cluttering up the freezer and camouflaging the ice cream. But all this seems normal to me.
Other people have their own ideas of "normal" freezer etiquette. My father allows his friends to put anything they see fit into his own freezer located in my parent's barn. "It's a good thing you haven't gone into the freezer." he said to me one day in an off handed kind of way. I was puzzled that he would bring such a thing up and why would I need to open the freezer in the barn? "Billy's mink is in there."
Obviously, he wanted me to ask why Billy's mink was in his possession. To humor him, I bit. It seems during the winter months, minks are illegal to hunt, only muskrats are fair game. Billy did not want to get caught with the contraband that accidentally ended up in his trap but it was far to prized a pelt to cast aside. My father being a good friend and always up for a bit of mischief and minor crimes, assisted him by offering space in the freezer at 540 Old Meeting House Road until early spring when the minks are legally up for grabs, again. I have no doubt that the frozen stiff animal lay aside exposed ice cubes and popsicles that will be offered to my children in the warmer months. Gross.
Believe it or not, frozen animals stashed in home freezers for purposes rather than eating, is not new to me. In college, I had a dorm mate who kept her cadaver feral cat in the common room freezer between study sessions in which she had to identify various muscle, ligaments, etc on its skinned corpse. But I still don't understand why she was studying what looked to me to be a common house cat. She graduated with a degree in physical therapy. For humans.
To be honest, I have experienced bizarre items for human consumption in Val's well kept freezer. Back when we only had one freezer in the house, a brick red Frigidaire to match the stove and dishwasher, there seemed to be lots of items brought home by my father and stashed away neatly by Val. Along with the Hood harlequin ice cream ( my sister Karyn and I always requested only chocolate as this was the first flavor to go and she always responded that the store didn't have any. I swear to this day, that she did this because my younger brother, the "Crowned Prince" never liked chocolate anything. Well, he didn't really like ice cream either, being undiagnosed lactose intolerant so the vanilla and strawberry would sit and crystallize until someone gave in and ate it or it got thrown out.) there were often stuffed quahogs and the occasional blue fish filet which may seem exotic to families who live elsewhere in the country however are normal meal ingredients here on Cape Cod. But by far the worst to topple out and land on my foot had to have been the headless eels. Their black bodies were coiled up and tied securely in a clear baggie. My father fished them by plunging 5 pronged spears through the winter ice. I don't know what was more traumatic, seeing the frozen snake like creature ( I admit to being afraid of snakes.) or knowing at some point that Val would be chopping it into 2 inch pieces, breading and frying it up for dinner to be served along side mashed potatoes and green beans. Even now, I can envision my father devouring this meal holding the breaded fish as corn on the cob and cleaning the spiny bone of all the flaky white flesh with his teeth as all three of us children ( and I think Val did, too although she hid it well) looked on in disgust.
When I think about it, a freezer is like any other "closet" in a house, revealing clues about lifestyle and personal stories. Just as a pair of muddy boots tells of toiling in the garden or a little black dress holds memories of cocktail parties, weddings and New Year's Eve toasts. There's probably fodder for a therapy session in my messy freezer: my life is chaotic and I feel often that it's out of control. But I'm not going to focus on that right now. Instead I'll choose to savor the homemade mint ice cream I made for my son (his favorite flavor) and unearth those few hot dogs for dinner tonight.
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