Thursday, March 18, 2010

So Long, Root Cellar

Whether you like it or not (I don't) and whether or not the calendar agrees (it doesn't), with 70 degree days upon us here in New England, it suddenly feels more like summer than the end of winter. Thanks, global warming.

Gone are the dark, short days devoted entirely to keeping one's feet from coming in direct contact with the frigid linoleum of the kitchen floor. Gone are the mugs of tea as big as the one in that creepy Alice in Wonderland Tom Petty video. Gone are the excruciatingly hot baths that left my skin the color of a red velvet cake. In other words, red.

Also gone is knowing that I can use my hallway as a perfectly chilled food storage chamber. All winter that's where we've kept bottles of wine, large pots of ambitious stews too clumsy to fit in the fridge, and of course the two hundred dollars worth of root veggies we bought from the Shared Harvest winter CSA.

I've wanted to preserve food with nothing but air ever since visiting Yugoslavia at the age of 10. Our family friends there had an enclosed porch that was stocked from floor to ceiling with naturally chilled brands of soda that I didn't recognize. All one needed to do for an icy Cockta was to open the door to the porch, and as a season-deprived Florida boy, I literally thought that it was so cool.

It gives me a certain satisfaction to think outside the icebox. In winter it drives me nuts that we so inefficiently heat our homes and then keep one little box within that heated space the same temperature that it is outside. If I had the guts, I'd unplug the fridge for the whole winter and just use the hallway.

But that's all over now. With the recent warm days the last of the apples are turning to mush and the remaining turnips are desperately sprouting. It's a reminder of just how fragile our food supply is: unplug the fridge and everything will try to turn back into dirt as quickly as possible.

I know I'm mostly alone on this, and maybe it's the seasonal deprivation from my early years, but I hate to see the winter go so soon. I thought I had a few more snowshoe trips in my future, a few more heaping bowls of well salted roasted root veggies.

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