And there it was. The jar of capers. The jar of capers that sits at the back of every fridge I’ve ever owned. It had at some point been used as it was open. I noticed the sign that said “use within 4 weeks of opening”. Hmmm. I’ve been living in my current home for over 20 months and I don’t recall EVER having used capers.

For some reason, I decided this Sunday was the day to defrost the fridge. Sundays are usually my chill days and defrosting fridges doesn’t usually fall in the category of “chill”. Because it’s a mission. But when I opened the fridge door and was greeted with a wall of ice thick enough to equal some of the icebergs I’ve seen on David Attenborough’s amazing nature programs, I figured it was time. Add to that the fact that my housesitter arrives this week as I’m away for a few days, and brings all his own food, I switched off the plug, opened the doors and started the process. It’s messy and time-consuming, took me all afternoon and into the evening, mopping up the defrosted ice from the floor, waiting for the large slabs to start falling away. It’s actually quite fun to chip away with a screwdriver and see how much ice you can pry off in big chunks.

Finally the time came to repack the shelves with all the contents I had packed into coolboxes earlier. And there it was. The jar of capers. The jar of capers that sits at the back of every fridge I’ve ever owned. It had at some point been used as it was open. I noticed the sign that said “use within 4 weeks of opening”. Hmmm. I’ve been living in my current home for over 20 months and I don’t recall EVER having used capers.

I stopped and looked at the rest of the contents I was about to put back in my now pristinely clean and defrosted fridge. The vegan salad dressing and low carb BBQ sauce I had bought at various times when on yet another eating plan (both taste vile). The remnants of various types of salad dressings (I seldom eat salads at home). I looked back at the jar of capers.

I remember when I moved back in 2019, after my husband died and our farm which had been home for 22 years, was sold. Once I settled in I commented to my best friend “I’ve got more wine than food in my fridge!” “Ah”, she said, “welcome to the single girl’s fridge”. I remember how strange that sounded. But yes, technically I was now a “single girl”.

I looked at the all the vegetables and I wondered why I kept buying things I knew I was never going to eat. I knew why. Because people kept telling me they were “good” for me. I know my tastes and they are simple. Baked sweet potato, roast butternut, baby broccoli, roast asparagus, maybe some vegan cheese over the top. Stir fry chicken. I like food I can eat in one bowl and if I can throw most of it in the oven and roast it, I’m in heaven.

And it hit me right there between the eyes (no, not the capers). The stuff in my fridge that was so representative of who I WAS. I’m not that person any more. Old habits die hard.

I seem to think you sprinkle capers over smoked salmon when you entertain. It looks fancy. I can’t remember when I last entertained with smoked salmon. Certainly not here in my new home. The only time I eat it these days is if I pick up some takeaway sushi for my lunch. Because I can. Because I’m single. I don’t entertain at home, I meet my friends out for meals. Except if my bestie stays over and makes the best risotto in the world (not a caper in sight) and we drink bubbly and catch up.

And it hit me right there between the eyes (no, not the capers). The stuff in my fridge that was so representative of who I WAS. I’m not that person any more. Old habits die hard.

Sorry capers. You are done. Finito. Into the Bokashi bin you go. I empty the vegan salad dressing and that awful low carb BBQ sauce down the sink. Along with the remnants of the salad dressings I’m never going to use. As I watch the squidgy mess disappearing down the sink, I imagine letting go of the old patterns and routines of my life. Of who I was. I throw out  the plastic bag of mouldy turmeric that turns all my crockery and my fingers bright yellow. I’ll stick to my lemon water and fresh ginger in the mornings, thanks. If I feel like it. Because I can.

It’s as though that jar of capers turned something on in my brain. For the first time in 20 months I begin to feel all of me. Not the one half of a relationship, not the one left behind, not the widow. Just me. Di. Diane. Justin Timberlake begins to sing “Sexy Back” from my playlist – if you are defrosting a fridge you have to have good music! I start to dance, something else I haven’t done for a long time.

My fridge purrs with delight when I switch it back on and it looks so deliciously, gloriously empty. And I’m keeping it that way for now. No more buying stuff I’m never going to use. Especially not capers.

I get the half-full bottle of Prosecco out of the freezer where I’d placed it for safekeeping (I have one of those fancy bottle tops that keep the bubbles in) because you can’t possibly have warm champagne. I discover it’s turned to the most wonderful slush. And no, it didn’t even make it back into the fridge! Cheers!

Di Atherton

Author Di Atherton

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