Thursday, February 28, 2008

The freezer

On Sunday, one of Mama and Daddy's sitters asked me if I knew insulation was hanging out of their chest freezer. The answer would be no!
I've worried about this freezer for a long time. It's the one my parents filled with the fruits of a vegetable garden at Rock Ridge. No one has used the food in it for years. A decade, is more accurate. I've worried that the freezer would stop working and the food would thaw out and rot without me knowing it until the telltale odor revealed the problem.
Well, that wasn't the problem. I really don't know what happened, but Sunday, when we tried to open the freezer lid, it wouldn't budge at first. Eventually, my husband pried it open, leaving a layer of yellow insulation frozen to the edges of the appliance. Reggie used an ice pick to break the insulation away. So now the freezer lid is in two pieces: the actually white lid and the layer of insulation. On Sunday, he chipped away the ice that had run over the top of the freezer and took out enough food so we could somewhat close the disconnected lid. We placed a carton of soft drinks and boxes of Boost on the lid to hold it down.
We left it like that until last night. The garbage is collected today, and according to the person I talked to at the city, it was OK to place the bags of frozen food beside our roll-out container. The freezer will be taken out of the house on Friday.
We waited until Mama and Daddy had gone to bed last night before we started our work. I didn't know how I would explain why we were hauling bags from the house, and I knew the truth would upset Daddy too much. So I didn't tell him. (He also would have insisted I cook the 15-year-old corn for supper or fry up a package of chicken.) Reggie and I both put on our winter gloves to protect them from the chill of the frozen food and got to work. While I filled 12 large black leaf bags, he hauled them to the front yard.
Because the lid no longer stays open by itself, I had to prop it against my shoulder or my head and reach deep inside to retrieve pint-size bags of corn, crowder peas and butterbeans lovingly grown at Daddy's Rock Ridge farm and brought home to freeze. A few times, I almost lost my balance reaching so far down and had a secret fear of falling in and having to wait for Reggie to rescue me between his trips to the curb. But I didn't fall, thank God. Can you imagine trying to explain that injury at the ER?
Stacked between the vegetables were freezer-burned steaks and pork cutlets, packages of bacon and even a freezer bag filled with snow cream with a note in Mama's writing saying it was made on the second day of the snow and was icy. I can promise you my mama would have eaten the snow cream if she had know it was in there!
There was even an unopened half-gallon of Winn-Dixie's Superbrand vanilla ice cream. I also found a few grocery store receipts, including one from West Nash Market. And Reggie discovered an ink pen that probably fell out of Daddy shirt pocket the last time he reached in to re-arrange the frozen foods.
After I had pulled out all I could get, Reggie had to once again pull out the ice pick to free dozens of pints of peas that were embedded in a thick layer of ice. But, in less than an hour, we had the job done.
Mama and Daddy always dated the vegetables they froze, so we know exactly how old the corn and peas are. Many were dated 1997 and 1998; the oldest bag I saw was from 1992.
My son, Robert, turned 2 years old in 1992. When he was a little boy, he loved to help Grandma and Grandpa freeze corn. It was his job to put the ears of corn into a large bucket of ice water to chill.
A lot of work went into raising vegetables on a farm you don't live on, and the work continued when the picked food was brought home to be shelled and frozen.
Daddy purposedly filled up his freezer with his homegrown vegetables because he wanted to enjoy them when he was too old to farm. He told me this many times. But Mama stopped cooking years ago, and the corn and peas stayed in the freezer. I cooked the ones Daddy had given me, but the rest remained in their cold storage for more than a decade. It's sad, really, to know Mama and Daddy's hard work ended up as trash.
But at least he had peace of mind all of those years, knowing it was there if he needed it.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Lisa,
    I think I know a little of what you went through with, cleaning out that freezer. Well, not exactly what you went through....I don't have lots to get out of my mother's freezer, but there's some really old stuff in there. Sadly, she died back on Dec. 31, and my husband and I are taking care of her home now, in addition to ours......but I do keep postponing the freezer thingy. : )
    I'm 5' 2" so I won't be cleaning it out while I'm there alone....those big chest freezers are deep!!!!
    Maybe I can talk my 6' husband into doing the job for me. Yep, that's what I'll do. : )
    Like your parents, mine kept themselves quite busy in the summertime...freezing (and labeling) all the veggies they could get in there...and their own homegrown blueberries too. However, they did their gardening in the back of their yard.
    My goodness, why my mother was willing to shell all those butterbeans when the beans were still so tiny, I'll never understand.....an awful lot of work, but oh, soooooo good!
    Maybe I should be sure my husband has butterbeans in his line-up of veggies to grow in his raised beds this year, and then try to freeze some...just like Mama did.