July 13, 2005

Island Food


It's got to be portable. A watermelon, which can be tossed into the bilge of a small boat and then wedged between rocks in the river to get chilled, makes the ideal island food. We trust no food to the canoes: the watermelon and ice chest go ahead with the small aluminum motor boats or my Dad's sailboat. When we first arrive at the island, everyone is eager to jump into the cold river water, swim from shoal to shoal, wash their hair in the waves. But no one in my family can go more than an hour or two without food. It's not long before the teenagers start saying they are hungry.

So my mother and I each grab a sharp knife and start cutting things up. Family members circle around us, some sitting on towels, some just standing about on the grey rock, tanned arms and hands reaching into the human cluster to grab chunks of food. We numbered 21 last week, kids and grown-ups combined, which makes for 42 hands and arms eagerly grasping for food.

I cut up the entire watermelon. Slice after slice, it disappears. My mother cuts up hunks of cheese. Every piece disappears. I grab the jar of peanut butter and begin putting peanut butter on crackers, setting them on top of the ice chest. Tanned fingers grab them before I even set them down. My mother cuts up a long stick of pepperoni. She opens cans of sardines. I pull a bag of cherries from the ice chest. Fistfuls move past my line of vision.

In the midst of this feeding frenzy, working fast to cut up food, all I can see are tanned legs and arms, hands reaching towards me. I do not take the time to see who is who but just put food into any outstretched hand. Soon all eight sleeves of crackers are gone. I find some apples and start cutting them up.

We always warn guests about meal times: if you don't move fast, you will get nothing to eat. Even the most shy person learns quickly not to hang back. Politeness will get you nowhere in my family; you learn to be assertive or starve.

We never have leftovers. Ever. And luckily, there is nothing to clean up either. We stuff leftover plastic wrap from the cheese and such into a paper bag. Another paper bag is filled with compost such as watermelon rinds. We toss the knives back into the ice chest. Sticky children, dripping with watermelon juice, their faces stained from grape juice, can be tossed into the river. The picnic lunch is over. The group will be satisfied for an hour or so, until it is time to pile into the boats and return to camp for an after-swim snack.

9 comments:

RussianViolets said...

Oh Jo(e), I soooo want to go on vacation with you.

Purple Hydrangea said...

I would love to be one of the kids on the receiving end... especially when time comes to be thrown into the water to clean up. How great you and your mother are in feeding the masses in that manner. Sounds wonderful.

KathyR said...

Sounds dangerous! All those flying knives & fingers!

BrightStar said...

yum! I hope you get to eat, too, jo(e).

Psycho Kitty said...

I had a flash of this year's baby starlings above our front porch; all that grasping and eating.

Rana said...

I started reading the text before the picture loaded, and I was so hoping there'd be a watermelon at the bottom of it. And there was!

I think I'd starve among your family. I'm as moochy as they come -- I'd have no shame going back multiple times for more food -- but I'm such a slooooow eater... *sigh*

PPB said...

Oh, this reminds me of my childhood canoe trips....crackers and cheese, crackers and peanut butter....yum.

Running2Ks said...

Yum! And thanks for the link :)

halloweenlover said...

great picture and sounds like such fun!