May 26, 2008


If you've ever owned a tent, a cottage, a motor home, a boat, an airplane, an island, or, if you're Steve Wynn, perhaps a distant orbiting planet, you know what it feels like to be seduced by the idea of a getaway retreat. And you know that when the dream has been realized -- once the acquisition of the getaway object has been negotiated, financed and contractually closed -- the illusion of effortless leisure evaporates. This is the moment you realize that the promotional brochures, in their glossy glory, have lied to you through their paper teeth. Because these getaway retreats are anything but effortless, baby. They require work. And guess who's the slave labor?

(This is the point where I want to pause and bow down to my parents, the two people who wrangled one Chrysler, four kids, six suitcases, 35 pounds of groceries, two duffel bags of bed linens, and several closetsful of childhood anxieties into the Wisconsin Northwoods every single weekend of every single summer of my childhood and adolescence to share the wonder of a lakeside cabin with a bunch of crabby, squabbling, uncooperative, recalcitrant, subversive, outright rebellious and rarely grateful progeny, and somehow, at the same time, managed to hold a marriage together. You the champions, Jim and Margaret. I hold my lighter aloft to you.)

So now Smitten is floating, and our weekends become much like the weekends of my youth: a herculean effort of procuring the goodies, gathering them into one spot, loading them into the car, and getting them on board the boat. Thank god, at least, there are no children involved. It's last Saturday, and the pile looks like this:

Visits to the Green city Market, the Dominick's, and maybe a Walgreens or two, yield these 35 pounds of food and drink that will wind up on the boat, stowed into the galley, and eventually onto our plates and into our glasses.

This is called provisioning, the bane and delight of any boater/cottager/RVer/pilot and, presumably, orbiter. Bane because if you forget anything, you have to figure out how to work around it. Delight because it's all part of savoring and anticipating the fun to come.

Personal effects, too, have to be figured into the schlepp equation.

This Memorial Day weekend is shaping up to be a mixed bag, meteorologically, with a chilly start and a steamy finish. So packing involves a schizo blend of layers, plus the usual implements of entertainment. (That is not a vibrator, you bad thing, that', moving on...)

Eventually we are successful at getting it all amassed, loaded into boat bags, thrown into the back of the 4Runner, tossed aboard the tender, and finally, into Smitty's salon:

Salon. This is just a la-di-da term for Smitten's living/dining room. On some boats, the area is called a saloon, which sounds vulgar to me, even though, I won't kid you, a respectable amount of drinking goes on in the space. But if you don't mind, we'll continue to call it the salon.

Blogspot is being currently uncooperative, but picture a picture of me here, perplexed, trying to figure out where to put everything in a galley that measures 24 X 30 inches. Peanut butter? where? huh? who brought all this crap, anyway?

But eventually, a place for everything and everything in its place, and we get to enjoy the fruits of our labors -- a lovely nosh under sunny skies with a plate of appetizers that precede a delicious meal.

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