I bought the old ice box pictured above from an antiques dealer who was going out of business. I think I paid $300, but I can’t remember for sure. I do remember thinking I got a pretty fair deal; it’s made of oak and was in real nice condition. We slapped a coat of wood sealer on it and called it good.
The dealer operated out of a room attached to the back of an adult novelty store – a porn shop, in other words – which he owned. I guess porn was more profitable than antiques, hence the sell-off. He was a nice enough fellow. It was late at night when I picked up the ice box, otherwise I would’ve spent a bit more time chatting. I would’ve liked to hear a bit about his career path. Or maybe not.
Anyway, soon as I got the box home, I went and drilled a pair of two-inch holes in the back, one up high, and one down low. Then I drilled a pair of matching holes through the exterior wall in our kitchen. Then I cut two pieces of PVC and stuck them through the wall and into the correlating holes in the ice box. Then we had a passive refrigerator.
For at least 6 months out of the year, mechanized refrigeration in Vermont is absurd. Think about it for a second: Right outside your door, you’ve got the biggest natural fridge money can’t buy. Right inside your door, you’re paying the utility for the dubious privilege of powering a plastic box to recreate essentially the same conditions that exist for free on the other side of a few inches of drywall, insulation, and siding. That’s the sort of thing that drives me nuts. Penny, too. Actually, Penny more.
The ice box isn’t perfect. If it gets real cold, stuff in the bottom freezes a little, though now that we’ve lived with it for many years, we can predict when this will happen and rearrange accordingly. If it gets above, say, freezing, it doesn’t remain a perfect 38.4-degrees. But that’s not a problem. Americans are obsessed with keeping their food cold. They think if their leftover meatloaf gets above 40, they’re gonna die. Our leftover meatloaf gets above 40 all the time. Not dead yet. A little sick of lukewarm leftover meatloaf, maybe, but dead? Hell, no.
We still have a fridge. It’s on the porch, and we use it from about now until November. We’ve considered using the ice box all summer, filling it with ice to keep things cool. It wouldn’t be that much work. It’s the way things used to be done, and we even have the significant advantage of having chest freezers to make ice for us. But we haven’t got there yet. One of these days. We’ve got a pretty long list under the heading “one of these days.”
One of these days, we’ll start crossing some of it off.