The leaves on the maple trees up the road had turned shades of gold and scarlet, turkeys everywhere were fattening themselves with absolutely no thought of the future, and onboard our sailing vessel Inuksuk, I braced myself for Thanksgiving dinner — meal preparation in our galley takes both ingenuity and luck. Pots and pans and space are limited, our appliances tax our electrical breakers to the max, and our propane oven is an old Finnish model we bought second-hand off an old fishing boat.
“Darling,” I said to John, “Is there any hope you can do anything about the thermostat on our oven before I try to cook another turkey?
“What thermostat?” John asked.
“Exactly my point,” I said. “The oven gets hotter and hotter until the turkey bursts into a ball of flame. And not that I’m complaining, but the oven is so small the only bird I can fit into it has died of a wasting disease.”
“Can’t you just dismember the turkey in the sink with the bread knife like last year?” he asked.
“Honey,” I said, “When last year’s guests realized I’d sawn off the drumsticks and jammed them into the body cavity, we never saw them again.”
“I thought it was your gravy that scared them off,” he said.
“Who can make gravy when you have to share the pot with the canned peas?” I asked. “I was under a lot of pressure. And as for the squash, that wasn’t my fault.”
“Yes it was,” John said.
“Nobody ever explained to me that, given the right circumstances and an old microwave, squash explodes.”
“Well you know now,” John said, “and so do the neighbors. I told everyone.”
“Thanks, Darling,” I said. “Stovetop stuffing OK again this year?”
“Do I have any choice?” he asked.
“No,” I replied.
“Can you make a few less mashed potatoes this time?” he asked. “We ate leftovers for weeks.”
“You have to FILL the crockpot.” I was willing to explain. “And our crockpot can hold eight pounds of potatoes. Otherwise the food overcooks.”
“Like the peas?”
“I told you that wasn’t my fault,” I said. “Doubling pots always flaps me, and besides, I panicked when the squash exploded.”
“The coffee was good though,” John said.
“It was.” I was quick to agree. “Though we blew the breakers twice brewing it. With all the appliances we own, no wonder we use more electricity than anyone else on the dock. We’re just lucky we didn’t blow the dock breakers. That would’ve made us unpopular.”
“We already were unpopular. I heard there was a groundswell movement among the neighbors to do an SPCA intervention about that turkey.”
“The turkey was DEAD,” I argued.
“The cranberries were good too,” John said placatingly.
“You can’t miss with canned cranberries,” I said. “I’m quite clever, aren’t I?”
“You are, my little Muffle-Wumpie,” John replied.
Just then there was a knock on the hull of the boat, and our neighbor Screaming Liver poked his head down the companionway. “Hey Catherine,” he said. “I heard you’re planning Thanksgiving Dinner, so before you get started I rushed right over to invite you and John to a turkey dinner on my dock. Pot-luck. Bring whatever you want.”
“Thank you, Steve,” said John. “We’ll bring the cranberry sauce.” In his eyes there were tears of relief.
Thanksgiving Aboard first appeared in the November 2011 issue of 48° North
Catherine Dook’s, latest boating book, “Offshore”, is available at oberonpress.ca
Her other two novels, “Darling, Call the Coast Guard, We’re on Fire Again” and “Damn the Torpedoes” are published by Touchwood Editions 1-800-665-3302