My Hometown 10-08-08

Published 1:55 pm Wednesday, October 8, 2008

There has been a tragedy at the in-laws, Granny’s freezer has died. Thanks to Hurricane Katrina, this is the second death in three years which has devastated years of collecting frozen foods such as antique peas and vintage deer parts.

For us Southerners, we understand the culture of the country freezer, but for the younger generation, the only reason to have a freezer is to store stuff purchased at Sam’s.

Knowing the importance of watching their pennies, the in-laws mourned the need to spend hard-to-come-by cash for another large deep freezer. But in Granny’s mind she can’t do without one.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

After losing her valuable collection of frozen food post-Katrina, it only took three months before the deep freezer was full again — lost was the antiquity of the new collection. The idea behind the freezer is to store mass amounts of food and save money on groceries. This theory worked great when Granny had a three acre garden and a captive-child labor crew to pick, hull, and shell the many bushels of veggies to store in the freezer.

That is the way it was done in the old days when you really needed a freezer. Not like today when Granny can only manage a garden with three tomato bushes and four squash plants. Unless you count the row of turnip greens in the fall — but no one freezes those!

The country freezer many times was set on the porch because of its massive size. I have many memories of my grandmother’s freezer because she would always try to keep fudgesicles in hers and we would raid it often. One time she had a large container of frogs on the top, to be made into frog legs. This made it hard for the squeamish to open the lid with all those dead frogs staring at him or her — but we are talking about fudgesicles!

The biggest issue with freezers is sometimes they go out and if you don’t use it often enough, you may not know for a while. That is what happened with our freezer when I was a little girl, or what I called the day the porch died. If we could bottle that horrid stink we could use it as a weapon against the Taliban!

But, if you went through post-Katrina, you probably are familiar with that deceased freezer aroma, and, some of you, found the other potential benefit of a full freezer. When the power goes out for several days, the freezer becomes a source of BBQ feasting just at the time desperate folks are in need of real food.

But do we really need the super deluxe size such as was used on Desperate Housewives when the little elderly neighbor used it to store her deceased husband. She didn’t kill him, just kept him hidden away after he died so she could continue to collect his pension check. Now don’t you be getting any ideas!

Ladies, if you keep a large freezer it is only to tempt the hunter man to fill it with dead animals. I won’t complain about fresh bass filets or even lean venison meat but, when the animal is still staring at me, I find it disturbing! (Remember the frogs; they were on top of the freezer.) Try taking an early morning trek to the freezer only to find a bobcat staring back at you. It’s better than N’awlin’s chicory coffee to wake a person from a dead sleep!

This of course is what the hunter man is counting on, our displeasure of finding the hunted prey in the food box. We complain and they use the excuse to take the animal down to the taxidermist. You know, to make us (the wives) happy. Hmm. Which is worse, the bobcat on the wall or in my freezer? (That is why we built the country cabin, for Carl’s lovely room of death.) This freezer is known as the Redneck freezer.

My husband knew the exact cubic footage that we could buy to accommodate his kill and remain in the small freezer category. Or maybe, since he watches Desperate Housewives with me he was considering his six-foot-four height in proportion to the size of our small freezer just in case he might be the next dead animal in the box!

But try explaining the need to downsize to Granny. With all the kids and grandkids living hours away the need to have mass amounts of food readily available has lost its rationale. The huge appliance costs over 10 dollars a month to run, especially sitting in the open like it is on the carport during the hot summers. You add the cost of buying two within three years at six hundred dollars and the debate is heavy handed in favor of a small functional freezer, if any at all.

What we are battling here is the culture of the freezer. Granny is too old to change. We have. Our small unit remains half empty since we are spoiled with the idea of running by the grocery store for fresh meat instead of hard frozen mystery age meat. We keep just enough for an impromptu meal and the occasional 10-point deer and that is the functional use of our freezer.

No, we can’t change Granny who still uses a clothes line. We can’t change her shopping to save money at the salvage grocery store and loading up on strange and exotic food products that many times remain unopened.

I got three containers of smoked almonds last month. I don’t eat smoked almonds. She used her dwindling monthly check to spend three dollars on me, on something I would never open. Plus, I am wary of salvage grocery items which sometimes are products from China that aren’t sold in most mainstream grocery stores for a reason.

I am not going to say you might be a Granny if… you have a freezer stuffed with antique peas, but aren’t you?

Tracy Williams is a guest columnist and can be reached at myhometown@comcast.netMy