Sometimes you just have to say goodbye, no matter how much work you put into preserving the thing. Such was the case with the fish of '98. Nearly ten years ago on a day filled with appreciation for free fish, an assortment of salmon and trout lay strewn all about the lawn undergoing a rather unsightly gutting and chopping process. The end of the road for these gutless, headless fish was a plastic and paper wrap labeled "Salmon '98." I say "end of the road" to mean they never managed to aspire to a nobler presentation, like the one they might have enjoyed on the dinner table. The sparkle of fine china, the wine goblets, the adornment of parsley and basil and lemon-pepper, the honor of resting on silver platters--none of this was theirs. They did, however, make it to the compost pile ten years later when the deep freezer in the basement finally gave them up. Today, on a day filled with tears and remorse, the ten-year-old assortment of salmon and trout lay once more strewn all about the lawn, this time undergoing the rather laborious process of scraping and tearing the papery-plasticy-fishy wrap of '98. (The reason here for the term "papery-plasticy-fishy wrap" is necessary only because the chemical process which occurred to create the mesh of the once separate and individually named materials of paper, plastic, and fish, eludes me. The single material derived from the interwoven mesh of these three, I believe, has not been named. Or either it has, but from lack of foreseeable commercial value the patent lawyers were never summoned. Whatever the hindrance, I know of no better way of describing the substance than papery-plasticy-fishy stuff, for it was all one). The material was laboriously scraped from the frozen flesh and discarded to the waste bin. The fish of '98, which stunk even while still frozen, were bedded down in a three foot hole in the compost pile. Apparently fish are the only meat edible to compost piles. Two days later, the earth was hot above the buried flesh. Dad was excited, and well, he had to be. He needed to replace his disappointment at not being allowed to fry up some of the fish and test its salvageability. Mom, with financial motives to keep him alive longer, firmly dismissed his motion and he was forced to find fulfillment in the chemical experiment going on under ground between overly ripe fish flesh and dirt. Two days of fish-strewn-lawn in ten years and three days of night-watch duty to make sure dad wasn't still trying to salvage the fish, and we all slept content that the deed was done. The fish of '98 were dead.
Epilogue: One hour later. Mom filled the deep freeze with pork.