My mum was so frugal it has left its inedible mark on me forever. Ask my wife of fifty years (next October, or perhaps was it November)? One of the most memorable frugal scenes I still vividly remember is mum scraping the butter paper. The butter would be unwrapped and put into the Delft-blue ceramic butter container. The real work started afterwards. She would carefully straighten the butter paper on the work bench and start scraping. Her whole body would move in unison with the knife taken to the paper. I often wondered about the passion so obvious, so dedicated. Who or what was she thinking? Not my father, surely not? They too lived a long and good life. Still, one never knows all those intimate hidden marital little secrets, harbouring phantasies of frustration and guilty revenges.
Anyway, I admire anyone who saves, scrapes and scrimps. I am afraid this art is dying out now. My children still sometimes show remnants of frugality but butter scraping is not one of them. They now leave lights on in rooms they don’t occupy, have a TV on while not watching. Jeez, this TV on without watching really drives me close to manslaughter. Fortunately, my partner (it sounds so much more sophisticated ‘partner,’ not wife) are in total agreement on that one, as on having a radio on just to hear noise. If you see a manic man hurling rocks over a fence from which loud music blares out, don’t call the police, encourage and give him larger rocks.
With Father Christmas lurking around on Shopping Malls car-parks already, we will soon again experience the dreadful running of the shoppers. Faces twisted and contorted in an unimaginable ugly spending spree. Trolleys laden with turkeys and pig’s trotters ramming into heels of elderly gents outside seeking reprieve from wives who are scanning the latest in dairy products isles. Mile after mile of cheeses so large, security guards with guns keep watch. Billions will be wasted and thrown out within days. Large bins laden with sour hams and slippery lobsters green with decay and odoriferous for miles around our sobbing suburbs, are waiting lifeless and forlorn for a final journey to council’s tip to be recycled into next years trinkets and symphony toilet paper.
My dear mum never ever threw out food. “During the war, we did not have food, so…”,and then she shrugged her shoulders, implying it would be criminal. She, as last resort would feed the ducks any scraps that, even according to her most stringent butter scraping standards were beyond consumption. Another day out and the scraps were almost ready to assume a life of their own.
The ducks somehow knew she was coming and darted out from the rushes to greet her. I think the throwing of chicken remnants was a bit insensitive though. I don’t know what the ducks would make out of that? Their own feathered friends now to be eaten? I never pointed it out to mum, that perhaps the chicken remnants were best given to the neighbours’ cats. But then again, ducks don’t know nor understand the background or philosophy of the butter paper scraping. I remember seeing a duck once who, during a very severe frost, had its legs frozen into the sheet of ice. The duck had to wait fro the ice to melt before able to fly or swim away. It was a relief to see the duck gone after a couple of days of thaw.
Even ducks go through difficult periods.