Wednesday, July 1, 2009


HAPPY JULY TO EVERYONE!!! I have a question for you.

In times ago, I lived in what was practically a full-time Huntin' Camp, with shotguns and rifles racked in every truck, fishing poles and equipment standing in every garage, and camo and the smash of Dayglo orange punctuating every closet. My first FIL loved hunting---he marked his calendar by the open seasons, was a renowned marksman, and could name every dog in five counties, just by the distant bay of their voices.

Once his hunting proclivities caused me a fright that I still conjure in my deepest dreams. He had shot a bobcat out at the deer camp, and brought it home, where he stashed it in MY freezer. And we had LOTS of freezers---we lived on a farm, and the family "compound" consisted of a several-acre lawn with four houses---five generations right there in one yard, surrounded by big fruit and pecan orchards and immense vegetable garden, melon patches, and cornfield.

We had freezers for fruit, and freezers for game; several held the bounty of the huge vegetable gardens, and others were for miscellaneous stuff. Everybody's little top one on the fridge was usually full of butter, margarine, maybe pizza boxes, etc. There were upright ones and downright ones, chests you could store an ox in, and a smaller one just for ice. The ancient one out in my utility shed had seen better days, and wore battle scars all over its alligatored white skin.

Even the catch in the hinges which was supposed to hold the lid up was broken, resulting in our all learning a weird little dance of lift, stick-your-head-under-to-hold-up-the-lid-while-you-look-inside, grab whatever you were looking for and try to lower the lid with one or both hands full of frozen chunks of something. This more often than not led to the dropping of frozen items onto your feet or shattering them on the concrete, and almost always to the slamming of the lid with a resounding whoomp! and a bruise to some portion of your anatomy.

On the day in question, I hurried home from work in order to get started on a Shrimp Creole dish for a friend's unexpected houseguests. (Did I mention that you had to sort of kick the front of the freezer in order to jiggle the wiring or the lightbulb or whatever controlled its sporadic light supply? It would obligingly come on for a while, or stay on past your closing the lid, just to be contrary. We checked it once, sort of snuck up on it by opening the lid a hairline, way less than it took to trigger the old black button in the recess, and sure enough---light as day in there).

So I knew just where to locate the packages of shrimp, ran in the door, lifted the lid, leaned WAY over to position my head JUST SO to hold the top up, rested the lid on my skull, and kicked the side of the still-dark freezer. And as the light gleamed on, I found myself face-to-face with a freezer full of bobcat, all brindle-fur and shining eyes, lying there all snarly-fanged, just inches from my face.

Just a-layin' there, takin' his ease, right on top of the peas and turnip greens.

I don't know which happened first---I must have gasped frosty air, and I jumped back and up enough to drop the lid enough to really bang my head, thus freeing the lid, which thumped down upon one of my uplifted hands, whumping it underneath its fall. I think it even bounced once or twice. And I don't remember if it hurt. I just remember my heart racing, and the folks running over from the lawn and field nearby.

And they laughed at me a long time. It got told and re-told at church and all around the community. And a taxidermist DID stuff it, with a dangly dead squirrel in its mouth, and hokey red paint on its front teeth. They even offered it to Chris as part of my "dowry" when we got married.

And what REALLY ODD thing is in YOUR freezer?


~~louise~~ said...

That day in "question" made an imprint for life, indeed.

Answer to your question. The oddest thing in my freezer is a snow ball...don't ask:)

racheld said...

Aw, Louise,

Until we moved to the snowing Heartland, I don't think there was ever a time we DIDN'T have a snowball in the freezer. Down South, it snowed so seldom, we always gathered up a handful or two and snugged it away, just because.

And any excuse to make snow-cream. Breyer's vanilla bean tastes remarkably like that watered-down Pet Milk/Watkins vanilla concoction. I buy a half-gallon now and then, just to reminisce.