Human beings have been drawn to fire for time immemorial. Sure, fires are handy for cooking, whether you’re roasting mastodon or marshmallows, but it’s more than just the practical. There’s something almost spiritual about gazing into the flames, contemplating life or just marveling at the beauty of this powerful force, contained and controlled just for us.
David and I were somewhat perturbed the afternoon that we saw our next-door neighbor, along with his teenage children, hauling an old chest freezer down to the bottom of their property. It reminded us of the joking form we saw when we moved to Kentucky: “Application for residence in Kentucky. How many appliances, working or not working, do you have on your front porch?” It was funny then, but when your pastoral view is marred by one pile of metal, you have to wonder if there will be more.
Not to worry! Just days later, they dragged a huge, thick cardboard box down to the freezer, ripped it up, and left it outside. Now I’m just guessing, but I’d say someone has a new freezer. That night, we saw flames, and the next day, we woke to a burned, brown metal box. Since then, we’ve seen this ritual take place several times. So, their yard is not destined to become an appliance graveyard, but rather a burn site.
A friend of mine asked if we didn’t have trash pick-up. Oh, yes, we do. We’re too far out in the county to have city trash service, but everyone on our street pays for one of the many private trash companies to come through weekly. On top of that, the dump is not too many miles away, and they would take both the trash and the freezer, although they do charge by the pound.
Imagine our astonishment when we woke up one morning to see lawn chairs gathered around the freezer! We are struggling to understand that this rusting metal box is evidently considered an object of beauty and an entertainment focal point. I will admit that I am slow to appreciate the finer points of modern art, particularly the pieces that resemble a pile of dirty laundry, but apparently I am blind to the masterpiece next door.
David has always loved fire, and we daydream about having an outdoor kitchen and a patio with one of those cool fire bowls in the middle. Our neighbor on the other side has a fire pit, and it does make a terrific gathering place for neighbors to come together. If you look closely at this picture, you will see that the freezer folks also have a fire pit, a bequest from the last guy who lived there. I suppose it is just so ordinary, so bourgeois, that something more dramatic was in order.
One of these days, a major art magazine is going to interview me, asking what it’s like to live next door to a genius. I’ll be baffled. David and I will stick to our Weber gas grill and hope that the flaming appliance will soon be carted off to a museum—or the dump.