Thankful List

I have much to be thankful for, large and small. Mentally, I make lists like this pretty often. If I feel grumpy, or have some real complaint, I find something to be thankful for and it usually fixes my wagon.  Although cliché, it is an appropriate time of year to actually write down the thankful list.

Item #1: I write afloat in Charlotte Harbor for our First Annual Turkey Day Cruise.  This is a popular spot this time of year. Some folks come every year—Jay’s parents, for example. They’re in transit to meet us, assuming their engine woes have been resolved, in time for Thanksgiving. I have a turkey and all the trimmings, the kids made holiday decorations, and all that is missing is family. On the one hand, it is strange to be here and not be going to my family’s or be at home preparing for visitors. On the other hand, this is the first Thanksgiving we will be able to spend with Jay’s dad, since they’re always on a cruise during the fourth Thursday of November. The fact that we are here in peaceful Pelican Bay off of Cayo Costa State Park is near-miraculous for at least a couple of reasons.  I mean, we sailed here, in a gorgeous breeze, in our boat. And we didn’t run aground or break anything major. There are sunrises and sunsets to write home about
every day. It still seems like a dream. (That was dumb. It is a dream. Our dream. And we’re in the middle of it. Don’t wake me.)

Item #2: We have water. That may not seem like much. And it doesn’t exactly come gushing out of the tap, and showers are buckets of warmish water you pour over your head by the cupful. But for a few hours, it looked like we wouldn’t have any. And nothing can rain on a parade more than not having water. Or, rather, having nothing but salty. (Water, water, every where, nor any drop to drink…) Jay, in his infinite cleverness, figured out what was wrong with the water maker and got it going again.  Have I mentioned that there is no one with whom I would rather sail around the world? He is definitely on the thankful list.

Item #3: Jay bought me a Dyna-Jet wringer just in time for our trip. Most women would be insulted, but I was thrilled. It made the laundry so much easier this week.  Washing has to be done at least twice this trip, and takes about six hours, not counting drying time (which depends on wind and sun). I just love that thing.

Item #4: The Dead Guys. This may seem a bit irreverent, but I really am thankful. Every time we take the kids on a fishing expedition or go exploring on the islands around here, we owe it to the unfulfilled dreams of two guys. The Porta-Bote, or Stretch Limo as I jokingly call it (after a small mishap a few weeks ago put it to the test), was to be strapped to the RV of one of the guys, and he and his wife were going to travel across this great land of ours and unfold the boat periodically to fish or explore waterways. His widow listed the 14’ boat on Craig’s list and it was still in the box when we went to pick it up. The 8hp motor Jay got for it has a similar story. It’s several years old, but was hardly used. Although I feel a bit sad about their unfulfilled dreams, there is no better way to honor The Dead Guys than to enjoy the heck out of the things they left behind and recognize them for their contribution to our dream. On a side note, The Dead Guys also remind us to be thankful that we are able to do this now, since tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Item #5: The chance to live like a pioneer.  We look around us, and even the folks anchored near us aren’t really like us. I know there are other people out there with little kids who live on boats, make their own bread and do laundry by hand, but so far we only know one other family, and they moved back to land a couple years ago. The kids’ chores at home are a bit disconnected from reality, but here they are learning that there is a direct link between doing their chores and contributing to the family’s well-being. If you don’t help grind the grain, there won’t be any bread, and if you don’t help with laundry, where are clean clothes going to come from? This is one of our goals in becoming more self-sufficient—that our children would learn true responsibility, and have a sense of satisfaction as they see how their contribution is real and valued.

While we still have many luxuries aboard TakeTwo, I am beginning to appreciate what pioneer women went through in America’s early days. I am also appreciating, though not yet missing, the comforts of home.  How very seldom I was thankful for the little things that make life easier and more pleasant, and how quick to complain if I didn’t get what I wanted at the moment I wanted it.  I’m a more grateful person because of this strange and good floating life. Happy Thanksgiving.