It started in the last week of May, with the Land Rover.
We had friends over, and we decided to go to the Four Seas for ice cream after dinner. The Rover, a 1970 model, is our usual ice-cream vehicle, both because we can fit six people in it and because it just seems right to go for ice cream in a decrepit old rattletrap.
We hadn’t even gotten all the way up the driveway before ominous creaking noises started coming from the rear end. We turned around, got out, and looked underneath. There was a huge crack in the frame, just where the leaf springs attach.
That was the beginning of Spring Break.
The next to go was the Eastern, our big boat. Kevin was out with his brother Marty pulling lobster pots, and the motor made a terrible noise when he tried to put it in reverse. It still ran, but it shook and rattled and shimmied. He limped in to the dock, and when he put it in reverse again the propeller shaft snapped clean off.
Then there was the door to the truck, which got banged into the dock as Kevin was backing a boat down a ramp. Yes, we brought that one on ourselves, but still.
Then came the woodsplitter. Our friend Ed had several cords of wood that needed splitting, and he made a deal with us: we loan him the woodsplitter and help with the job, and get half the wood in return. That was a great deal for us, and we brought the splitter over to his place and got started. After several afternoons of non-stop splitting, it started to struggle. Then the hydraulic pump just gave up.
After the woodsplitter was the freezer. The freezer filled with thirty pounds of striped bass, six ducks, two turkeys, other miscellaneous meat, and various vegetables and stocks. Its defroster failed and, in a bit of appliance irony, the resulting ice build-up prevented it from freezing.
I caught it before everything defrosted, and although we lost about ten pounds of fish, the rest of it was salvaged. When the repair guy came, he told me that I could keep the freezer running in the week it would take to get the required part by plugging it in during the day and unplugging it at night to defrost.
I switched the food to the bait freezer, put the bait (fish frames, primarily) in the broken freezer, and tried his method. The first hint that it didn’t work was when we started to notice the smell of rotten fish suffusing the house. Taking that load to the dump and cleaning up the mess was about as disgusting a job as I’ve done since we moved here.
Last to go, the final insult, the straw that broke the camel’s back, was the coffeemaker. It was less than a year old, and it broke only because it felt it had to show solidarity with its electrical and mechanical brethren.
Now, two months from the beginning of Spring Break, we’ve gotten everything but the woodsplitter repaired, replaced, or resuscitated. The Rover frame is patched and the lower unit on the Eastern’s motor is replaced. The door of the truck is pounded roughly back to its original shape, and freezer is freezing once more. We have a new coffeemaker, which makes lousy, insipid coffee, and which I hate with a passion reserved for single-function appliances that perform their single goddamn function badly. I’m hoping this one breaks as quickly as the last one.
The woodsplitter, we put on hold, since it’s a little hot to be splitting wood anyway.
As we were dealing with everything broken – calling repair people, locating parts, writing uncomfortably large checks – my inner Eva Gabor was getting louder and more insistent. “Times Skvare,” she said, with her charming Hungarian lilt, and I thought longingly of the times when we owned no truck, no boat, no woodsplitter, and no freezer. Yeah, we had a coffeemaker, but it worked with us, not against us, and made decent coffee to boot.
It’s when the going gets tough that I’m tempted to hightail it back to New York, and trade my boats and trucks, freezers and woodsplitters, for a 250-square-foot apartment and a Metrocard. Kevin, though, is made of sterner stuff and, since I’m not going anywhere without him, I stayed and helped get everything fixed.
We got the boat back from our mechanic, Billy at Anchor Outboard, just this week, and Kevin took his son Eamon and Eamon’s friend Emanuel out to check our lobster pots. With the boat out of commission, we hadn’t been able to get out there for a good six weeks.
Kevin called me after they’d pulled the first four, to report that there were already four keeper lobsters in the livewell, and the chicken I was planning for dinner would have to wait for another day.
A couple hours later, they rolled in with our all-time record lobster haul. Ten lobsters, one of them three and a half pounds. Sixteen pounds total.
We called friends. Doug and Dianne came. Les and Val came. I picked up some local corn, made a cole slaw, and melted some butter. Kevin boiled the lobsters in a giant pot on the burner outside. Les brought some littlenecks. We opened the wine, and sat down to one of the best dinners we’ve had in our three years here.
The truck, the boat, the freezer, that’s what it’s all in service to. We’re bumbling our way through all this for the days when we can put an abundance of lobster on the table and watch as our family and friends drip butter on the tablecloth in their enthusiasm. I don’t expect to stop missing New York, but there are things you just can’t do with a Metrocard.