Thanksgiving on Matinicus Island – The Aftermath
Heather, our island schoolteacher, assured me that I ought to tell the rest of the story.
After the uncooperative weather on and around Thanksgiving Day this year resulted in a bunch of island-bound half-families deciding to feast together with or without the requisite poultry, we realized how this was an excellent description of our normal lifestyle. Anybody over there on the other side of the moat thinking about applying for the teaching job, or a sternman’s position, or moving out here to write the Great American Novel, or even allowing themselves to be hired to pound a few nails on the island ought to give due consideration to their tolerance for stuckitude.
This isn’t really about Thanksgiving. It’s about living on an island. This stuff happens to us all the time.
On break from the Putney School in Vermont, high school freshman Lydia arrived on Wednesday afternoon aboard Troy’s boat with her turkey, wearing Eric’s coat. No, no, Lydia was wearing Eric’s coat, which he’d lent her on the wharf in Spruce Head as she’d left hers in the Green Mountain State. Even though the wind wasn’t blowing enough to move the fog along, NOAA weather was giving seven-foot seas and the trip was … cold. I asked Lydia how the boat ride was. “Wonderful” she replied, straight-faced. Yup.
Lydia’s parents hosted their annual Thanksgiving morning buffet. A couple from the north end of the island showed up for the festivities with their random Sheetrock guy, who found himself stranded on Matinicus for the holiday. Do you know where that word “stranded” comes from? It means “beached.” Stuck on the beach, as in shipwrecked.
Jill got here by boat at about noon on Thanksgiving Day, but only because she happened to run into Kate in Rockland who told her that her brother was making a trip across at the last minute. You can’t plan these things. Lobstermen are mercurial creatures, to be sure. She arrived bearing a most attractive little turkey from Damariscotta, which we packed full of homemade-bread and onion stuffing, slathered with a butter wrapper, sprinkled with Bavarian and Northwoods, and shoved into my wood stove for the remainder of the day. Until Jill’s arrival with said bird, we’d had serious thoughts of a back-up entrée of mooseburger meatloaf or even an ordinary chicken, hurriedly thawed with the help of copious amounts of oxygen and acetylene. One could do worse. Meanwhile, my own New Sharon free-range turkey was being lovingly roasted in South Thomaston, in the capable hands of my son and my mother. I was supposed to bring the large roasting pan to the mainland when we flew over (ha ha). Instead, somebody made a quick trip to the cookware section at Wal-Mart.
Earlier ruminations about bacon and eggs for the big day wouldn’t have taken us very far because Jill had the only bacon as well. She also decided for some reason known only to God to buy kale. More on that later, maybe.
I had full intentions of spending the holiday on the mainland with our son, briefly home from college, and our daughter, my brother and sister and brother-in-law, amazing nieces Aviendha and Lyra, cousin Melvin, mom, possibly Paul’s sister, and whomever among my sister’s friends happened to have time to stop by. I wouldn’t be traveling far inland; my flight probably wouldn’t add much to the national statistics concerning air travel for the Thanksgiving holiday. You could probably see my sister’s house from here if it weren’t for the curvature of the Earth and Hewett’s Island. Husband Paul, on the other hand, knew that his first obligation is to the electricity, and should a storm loom or one of the Detroit diesels exhibit some bit of defiance or an able substitute not be at hand, Paul would be eating his pie at home. Thus, knowing full well of these possibilities after a couple of decades of a contented ménage-a-trois that includes the power company, I had obtained a pint of heavy cream well in advance. If Paul was to skip the family groaning board in order to tend the station, he would at least have chocolate cream pie. Of that, I would make sure.
Pie-wise, then, we were not in bad shape, although a precisely engineered dessert course it was not. We had all made apple pie. Heather’s apple pie was to be shared with Fred in Pittsfield, and mine with the South Thomaston guys, and Robin’s was ready for her island table whether or not daughter Jill made it here with the main dish. We gathered at my place and ate all three together.
So, all was well on Matinicus Island for the “stuck” and the transported alike. Lydia and Jill made it over the water to see the folks thanks to some real scrambling and the last-minute decisions of a couple of characteristically independent-minded fishermen, while Eric and Emily had a perfectly fine time without a parent in sight. The Sheetrock guy no doubt was well fed, the game of Musical Turkeys left nobody eating Spam after all, Jill’s kale was cooked with abundant garlic and I’ll confess was not half bad despite being the subject of rather too much commentary, there wasn’t an airplane for four days, the lights stayed on, and someday I hope I am again blessed enough to have three apple pies at once.
Eva Murray of Matinicus Island has a tendency to think with her stomach. Regular readers will have noticed this. Also, the Sheetrock guy finally got off the island late Saturday afternoon.