Winter done East Coast style

It’s good to have a friend back east. After a short chat with her, my fingers and toes don’t feel any warmer, but somehow I know they are.
When she called, I had just been whimpering about overnight temperatures in the 40s and the constant morning chill in my house. I had to put on an extra sweatshirt, for crying out loud!
Surrounded by enormous snowdrifts made slick by freezing rain, my friend innocently shared that Maine had an absolutely spring-like day that week where the temperatures had been … in the 40s. She was so distressed that it didn’t last. It was 8 degrees there now. Eight.
My Maine friend makes me feel like a ready-to-shrivel hothouse flower. It appears that what I need are a couple of stiff East Coast winters to toughen me up so I can be more stalwart about chilly mornings. This is presuming I would survive with nose and toes still attached.
I have new evidence, however, that the hard winters back there might affect the brain as well. My son in Boston, the recent college graduate and medical school candidate, has become a dumpster diver.
A what? That’s right. His mother is not happy. I truly expected to see a headline last week saying “Recent college graduates found dead of Salmonella, Staphylococcus, Campylobacter, Clostridium, Listeria, Shigella, and/or Shiga-toxin Escherichia coli — or all of the above.”
It started sweetly enough. I got an unexpected call from my child asking for my mother’s recipe for chicken and dumplings. (He did not realize it is a closely guarded family recipe handed down for generations on the back of the Bisquick box.) The first surprise was that he was cooking chicken, as he has been a vegetarian for about seven years. When I queried him about that, he pointed out that they had pulled some wonderful, sustainably raised chicken breasts from the dumpster behind a particular high-end food store.
I nearly leaped through the phone in horror, but he assured me “Mom, Boston is one giant deep-freeze in the winter.” I had to admit that was something I hadn’t thought of, but I swiftly reminded him that he didn’t know how many times that chicken had been thawed and refrozen before it hit the dumpster. I had visions of crazy big bacteria counts.
Have you ever really wanted to be right but been really glad you were wrong? Yes, that’s how I felt when I called the next day to make sure he was still breathing. Being 22 years old and, of course, invulnerable, he laughed at my concern. The whole thing still makes me queasy and I went straight to the bank and put food money in his account.
If I didn’t know better, I’d swear it was the newest scam to get money from your parents. Don’t complain about having to eat beans three times a week. Just casually mention to your folks you are shopping out of dumpsters.
The money will come flying in, I promise.

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  1. Machel Penn Shull says:

    Jean! Love this column. Always love to read you. One of my past times when I have a free moment. Send everyone my love:) Machel P. S.

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