Whenever I leave the house on a trip, I leave written instructions. Water the plants Friday, grab fruit at the farmers market Saturday, pick up the dead branches blocking the front door, the ones you’re stepping over. I try to be specific.
If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t exist.
I came home the other day to a kitchen that smelled like a dozen vagrants were having an intimate biological infection.
That’s the nicest way I can say it because this isn’t a girls’ lunch.
The list I left didn’t include every eventuality that could grow in a Petri dish, so I hold myself responsible. Though in my defense, I had suggested if the fridge were opened now and again, it might be a good idea to throw out any sour milk, soggy greens or oozing tomatoes that happened to crawl forward.
I meant to imply if an unusual rainbow of colors suddenly appeared behind those chilly metal doors -- white foam, blue-black fuzz, green slime -- please jump into action.
I should have written these exact words: Bury your dead.
I have a great partner in the house so I shouldn’t complain, besides it opens up a whole can of worms, and I didn’t find any in the fridge this time. I’m also committed to never dividing issues based on men vs. women. I find it childish, overdone, boring and generally untrue.
Though once in a while I wish these guys would open their eyes.
I guess I’ve become even more vigilant about any organic festering since the latest E. coli outbreak involving romaine lettuce. I’ve been reminded not everything usually plucky and natural is good for us, even if it has lots of vitamins B and C. I prefer mine without gut-wrenching dysentery.
The E. coli news sent me on a mini-research rampage in which I discovered not everything tucked in the ice box is harmless either. Lots of germs can grow in your home tundra, hard to pronounce things called psychrophiles lazing on the shelves, hiding behind the juice, making themselves comfy in your own safe haven.
These cold-loving bacteria, maybe the weirdest poisons on the planet, are also found in the glaciers of the Arctic and Antarctica. Sun-loving germs I understand, everything wants to spread out and proliferate in the sun. But these cold suckers are way outside my comfort zone on every level.
I don’t want to alarm you, but every once in a while you should get out the crampons and do a little exploration in your way back forty to see if any glaciers are forming in there. Maybe you’re even harboring a seal or a puffin.
Yet in all fairness, each time I leave the house, I notice the guy who must survive on matzo alone while I’m gone, tries even harder not to let some silly oversight ruin our happy homecoming. And who could have known a bird would use our window for target practice, right in front of where he was eating?
It wasn’t on the list.
But to his credit, when I got home this time the refrigerator was full, even if it was covering up some pretty dicey stuff. In fact, while I was gone, we’d acquired three large onions with no immediate plans for hot soup, and a dozen shiny Honeycrisps, because he’d forgotten he’d already bought some.
These new additions make me feel better. Some cultures believe onions have medicinal properties that could cure what ails you and maybe even give a creepy psychrophile a scary moment.
And certainly I don’t need to tell you about the health benefits of an apple a day. I’ve even heard it keeps the puffins away.
May 3, 2018