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"Certain ethics govern the acquisition of a LarderFridge."

Three and a half years have passed since we last owned a LarderFridge, a ramshackle second refrigerator intended to hold overflows, leftovers, and beer. It's been a genuine ordeal. In Winter, of course, we enjoyed the walk-out refrigeration services the weather delivers directly to our deck. Last week, the pot of leftover pozole and a nearly full gallon of sweet cider sat knee deep in fresh snow, though by Friday that snow had melted and I had to direct the refrigerator's contents to scrunch up so those babies would fit inside. Late in the week, The Ever-Vigilant Muse noticed another refrigerator give-away on the local listserv and she immediately contacted the owner. We'd been trolling for a free fridge for three and a half years, narrowly missing more than a few. This time, the owner replied that she'd already found a taker, though she'd leave us in the queue. Friday, she contacted us again, saying that the first taker had declined the offer. We readily and unconditionally accepted, sight unseen. We were that desperate for an "extra" fridge.

Certain ethics govern the acquisition of a LarderFridge. One may not, for instance, just go buy one, for that would demonstrate both a lack of faith in providence and a demeaning over-eagerness.
LarderFridges must appear as a sort of synchronicity, coming to hand as if a greater hand were guiding the process. Word of mouth works, advertising does not. The prospective LarderFridge must be freely given away, or nearly so. Paying more than a hundred bucks would be paying too much. Paying anything at all nudges one into iffy territory. The LarderFridge must have some story attached to it, no matter how mundane. One of our past LarderFridges was a mother-in-law fridge in its former life, freely given by a newly liberated daughter-in-law. LarderFridges are often haunted, carrying the spirit of its former owner, whether in a cranky over-achieving freezer compartment or a curiously cracked shelf. The exact history of the thing will forever remain a mystery, but whatever might eventually go wrong with it clearly will not be our fault. We just picked up the cast off and offered it a home.

As the proud new owner, it's up to me to figure out how to convey the thing to its new home. Since I don't have a truck, this generally means borrowing or renting one, and also finding someone willing to help move the damned thing. Refrigerators only come in too heavy and awfully ungainly sizes. That mother-in-law fridge needed carting down two flights of precarious stairs. I hired a neighbor kid, home from college, to help. The whole effort took about an hour, with an extra hour tacked onto either end to cover the time it took to rent and return the truck. Even a free fridge will likely set one back a hundred bucks between truck rental and manpower payment, small change when compared to the huge difference that extra fridge brings. Suddenly, all those odd pickles The Muse insists upon stocking have an out-of-the way place to repose between infrequent uses. I can scan the primary fridge and actually see the contents. The volume of inadvertently resident science projects will consequently plummet.

The new box needs cleaning. The coils want vacuuming. The designated space won't seem quite right at first. It should properly require a few weeks before its presence becomes routine. In the mean time, I have some rearranging to plan and execute. Our life is a tile puzzle, sometimes seemingly one with no missing tile. Adding one new presence disrupts an easy dozen other presences already anchored to "their" spot. The garage will uneasily contain the new machine, tucked up into a corner previously filled with shelves. The Muse imagines a simple matter of "simply" displacing some shelves to the far end of the same wall. I foresee a small ordeal. Since LarderFridges always come unbidden, arriving at relatively inconvenient times, some disruption seems necessary and acceptable, a hazing ritual for us. A dedication test might be necessary to confirm rightful ownership of this "free" appliance. The gifting code demands no less.

At some point in the future, like at several times in the past, the time will one-day come for The Muse and I to move. One does not take a LarderFridge when moving. Part of the deal involves passing it forward to the next fortunate and unlikely owner, complete with new stories, to continue the evolving legend. The casserole pans held before feasts. The holiday leftovers held over after others. The steaming quarts of stock cooled within its belly. The pre-historic pickles it preserved not so much for future use as for posterity. Those pickles will go when we move, too, but probably not before. As we returned from our Saturday larder stocking, I mentioned to The Muse that this was the first time since we'd moved here that I wasn't fussing over where we might store our fresh supplies. Once home, we found room left over in both the everyday fridge and our extraordinary new (to us) LarderFridge. Sublimity!

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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