An Island Holiday and All Its Random Trimmings
I just squeaked back to the island on Monday afternoon, on the last flight, sunset color in the sky by 4:00PM, and one hell of a mess threatening for the morning. There would be no flying the next day, and no boats either. The days after that were, according to the weathermen, questionable. A lot of people left the island Monday, to assure a Thursday Thanksgiving wherever they were headed. Many were hopeful that they might get a deer as well.
Eric was home from Bethel, and Emily from Exeter, and friend Seamus here from York, Maine (but now at Rensselaer). He's one of those who keeps coming back to Matinicus for no reason except that he wants to, even in the worst weather. This place does that to some people. All intended a week of serious gustatory excess. The shopping to enable the same cost me all I had and more, but somehow they managed fit it all into the Cessna.
The three teenagers and all the food went on one plane, while I stood in the flying service office jabbering like an idiot, trying to defend island attitudes, stereotypes and paranoia to the official asking about the forest fire assessment program. “Just don't talk to people as if they were morons and you'll be fine.” I told him about the long history Matinicus seems to have with representatives of various agencies coming out here and holding meetings at which islanders are addressed rather like the kindergarten. I needn't have been so edgy. He was just trying to reassure me that the foresters weren't the junkyard police.
A couple of weeks earlier we had ordered a local turkey through the Good Tern Co-op in Rockland, but it was now looking unlikely we'd actually get it here for Thanksgiving. I grabbed a bird from the supermarket and figured we'd eat the Maine gobbler at Christmas. As I write, quite literally, Paul is at the airstrip picking up the bird after all. Thanks to the many hands through which that lovingly reared bit of ayuh-native poultry had to pass to get here from New Sharon. He will spend Thanksgiving morning in my wood stove oven.
Son Eric was interviewed by Bill Green for “The Green Outdoors,” as a member of the Sunday River Ski Patrol. Friends have been calling to say that they saw him on the six o'clock news on Monday. Green mentioned that he grew up “on Matinicus Island.” When asked during the interview to comment on the hardest thing about being on the Ski Patrol, Eric told him “The hard part for me was learning to ski…I got here not knowing how to ski or ride…” That was true. He'd been once or twice to the Snow Bowl as a child, that's it, while many of the students at Gould have been skiing since they could walk. With George and Robin and Eric, we happily boast that we are the only island in Maine with an active ski patrol. I think Kevin the pilot was a patroller too, back when he had time to ski. We're in good hands.
Emily's priority was to get back to the island in time to attend the school play on Tuesday afternoon, as 3rd grader Zeke has been corresponding with her and was looking forward to seeing his pen pal in attendance; her room at school is wallpapered with notes from home, subject matter being mainly Legos and airplanes.
A big piece of our world this time of year is the winterizing houses and cottages; Paul has about 35 of them to do. Some years, everybody wants to be last. “Shut my place off last,” they say, “I might make it out to the island one more time.” That makes it hard because everybody cannot simultaneously be “last.” Better to drain the water, and then if you come out and want to use your camp for the weekend, you have to drain the water a second time. That sure beats a mess of burst pipes in the spring.
Speaking of busted stuff, the kids have just come in from Grammy Pat's gravel pit with the .410 and the blasted remains of the wireless router. It hadn't been working right for a long time. They are giving serious thought to sending it in: “This seems to be broken. Can you fix it?”
Lydia will be glad to see some teenagers for a change, always a shortage of them around here. She stopped by to purchase a pound of garlic and commiserate. The eighth graders do tend to get a bit bored around here as a rule. We'll be going to a Thanksgiving brunch at her house…a break from the cooking at mine. Historically, the weather (which of course determines my TV reception) has put the screws to the pleasant idea of me watching the parade while smelling the turkey cook, but the networks have
ruined that anyway. I can't imagine anything less interesting than a bunch of soap opera characters discussing where they are having Thanksgiving dinner; I want to hear the marching bands. It seems you can hardly ever hear the bands anymore. I don't think they even try to get the audio right. Who cares about some rapper interviewing some other dope about the weather in New York? We want to hear the flugelhorns. You've got to love a good marching band.
I am trying to have a sort of abstemious day this day before Thanksgiving, trying to keep it simple and get hungry. I have a notion that it would be a good idea to eat only meager and boring rations for a good number of days before the holiday, in mind to instill a sense of gratitude for the gravy. Bread and water wouldn't do it for me because I really like bread and water, when it's good bread and water. Maybe I should make myself eat turnip and squash (no offense) or cabbage soup or borscht or tripe or
…or a diet of American consumer kit-built automatic convenient microwaveable instant pseudo-food product.
Actually, this Thanksgiving, we all ought to be eating lobsters.
Eva Murray can be found on Matinicus Island, cooking with a spoon in one hand and a screwdriver ( no, not the drink) in the other.