Friends who invent their own holiday
Dubbed Nautical Thanksgiving, a homemade celebration shares food, stories, and company
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In early May and mid-September, it doesn’t take long for it to get dark, and the glow of the grill quickly becomes the only light outside the cottage (apart from a little lighthouse way offshore that slowly blinks “I love you” in Morse code). Tonight, Gary’s got a pork shoulder (porchetta) on the grill, its skin glossy with the reflection of the flames. Inside, every table in the house is lined up and a sampling of mismatched chairs assembled. It’s a chaos we have down to a science.
Dinner begins with a moment of clarity — a toast to the hosts, to the cooks, to the long-distance travelers, to the weather — and descends into a blur of passing platters and intense, attentive silence. Lena salad — our old faithful friend, its mix of crisp onion and smooth avocado a tribute to another summer gone by — almost molten against the crisp skin of the rich porchetta. Grilled halloumi with Avery’s olive-pepper tapenade, divine with its savory char, becomes fast friends with simple roasted fingerlings. Freshly freed lobster meat finds its way into a cool scoop of tangy ceviche. It’s frankly all a little too much.
As Saturday gives way to Sunday, we hobble down to the rocks, build a fire and let it die. Most years, there could still be a quick dance party in Club That, a converted shed with a bed and a red light bulb where we sleep (“You sleep in that,” said Lena long ago, pointing at it across the yard). This year no can do because it’s been taken over by spiders.
Letting the tide sweep over the rocks to put out the party and send us to bed, Nauty-T feels natural and ritual at once, the way every day ought to, let alone every holiday worth the word: a balance of labor and leisure, the idle and idyllic, a celebration of everything and nothing, all at once, with whoever can make it.