Friday, 8 February 2008
Frequently I refer to home " ... as like living in a fridge. In winter it's so cold you can hang a side of beef in the joint for days without fear of it going off." The winter heating bill is massive ... reminder ... check economic heating before winter ... I digress.
Sunday Scribblings prompt reminded me of times when there was no fridge space. Childhood days when we'd hear the clip clopping of the horses hooves on tar roads, knowing the ice man was coming.
In those days fridge space was never a problem, they were a rarity. Ice chests kept food cold. Shopping was done daily. Mother's cooked by the seasons, the weather and the affordability of ice. She's prepare accordingly so by the time father was due home his dinner to be on the table as he walked in the front door.
The ice chest was revered. A wooden cupboard about 15 x 15 inches by three feet tall. There was a top section, insulated with some kind of material that is probably illegal now, where a hinged door lifted up to hold the block of ice. Ice insertion could be compared to turning a fridge on ... NOT!
The door was only opened as needed, ice cost money. No standing in front of it with the door ajar, the light on, peering in, deciding on a cold treat. None of that. The ice chest held the milk, the meat, fish if Dad had caught any, butter if you could afford it and little else. Other food was stored at room temperature. If there was no ice chest a meat safe, a wooden cupboard, with the sides, top and door covered in wire mesh, kept the flies off the meat.
The days the ice man delivered we waited, jiggling for spots, yet scared to death of a hiding if our mother saw us on the road. As the clip clopping drew closer our hearts raced, round the corner came the huge thundering horse, our excitement level rose, we watched, temporarily mesmerised as the lithe, ice man, slung a block of ice up over his shoulder onto a hessian bag all the while, his feet moving, in step with the moving cart then running. As he took off we'd scramble onto the road behind the cart, scavenging for a slither of the glistening ice to suck on, to numb out lips and tongues, to saturate our sleeves.
The scrawniest kid was the lookout. As soon as 'the ico' reappeared we'd be the innocent, angelic Bondi kids, lurking, walking quietly in the gutters, not too close to the horse, waiting, wishing, willing, ice to drop to the roadway. The littlest kids took the biggest risks darting in and under the moving cart. The horse never stopped, it knew the delivery route, it ambled on, bridle and reins dragging, as deliveries were made, while mouths and hands jostled for the drips of freezing water, the nectar of the day. Small feet followed the cart, like a procession, to feel the cold, wet rivulets between our toes.
The naivety and bliss of it all ... enough ... I'm off to Google a heater price the temperature is only twenty degrees tonight ... winter's round the corner ... is that hooves I hear?