Friday, February 05, 2010

Keeping cool

In the late 40's and early 50's we still had an ice box in our family home. You'd put a red card in the window with a number on it indicating the number of blocks you wanted or reverse the card, showing a blank if you didn't need anything. Using real horsepower, the ice man and his wagon would trot around the neighborhood on his route. The ice was carried using huge tongs and he'd muscle it straight into the house and put it in the tin lined compartment. As a child I remember this as a very exciting event - the horse, the heavy lifting and the grand finale -  if you were lucky, the iceman might give you a small chunk of ice to suck.

On the farm my grandfather would cut huge chunks of ice out of the river, drag them onto shore and stack them  under a tree, covering the whole ice mountain with tarps. The ice pile would gradually dwindle during the spring thaws and by July or August, there was little left. Grandpa was legendary in the area for ice rafting. Once the ice really started to break up, he'd take a day and ride ice chunks going at high speed down the river as far as he could go. Not a sport for wusses, it was freezing cold, dangerous (you could fall off and be crushed) and a long, long walk back, but it was something he loved. There was no Raging Waters in Manitoba - you made your own fun or didn't have any.

Electric refrigerators were a huge leap forward - no more cleaning the nasty drip pan or careful meting out of space and timing of the purchase of ice cream and other frozen treats. Conveniently, we had something called Winter in Canada which enabled us to tuck things out in the snow when the ica boxa was full. Fine for Christmas dinner but not so good in the summer time.

Keeping things cool is a lot easier now. New refrigerators on the horizon include the conceptual refrigerator in the photo by designer Yoon jung Kima and Jong rok Lee. It has a special glass in the front that is normally opaque however if a current is run through it, it will turn transparent. As you approach the unit, the current flows and contents are displayed. No energy wasting door opening to visually shop the contents for a snack. Other new refrigerator concepts divide the box into 5 or 6 different compartments which can be kept at different temperatures. Both photos are from Electrolux Labs.

Now that I don't have a solid black granite counter top to wipe down every hour, I'll need something else to we are buying the Frigidaire glass front refrigerator for our laundry room after much debate. Towering over the laundry room space, this monster should fill up quickly with extra fruit, drinks in the summer and on special occasions when you need plenty of cold space.

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