Well the year ended. Over the last week we video messengered family and friends and wished them all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Antigua. We do the same for those reading this blog. Most of our family, and a number of our friends, are all well north of here by thousands of miles. This means that their weather is quite a bit different than ours in the Caribbean. It is not unexpected that one topic of conversation that pops up is the temperature difference between our respective environments.
Oh, how many of them enjoy the cold wintery weather and express such glee in the falling snow that is piling up around their home. A real Christmas scene, a delight in their eyes. Come March they may not continue to sing such songs of joy (again), but this is not the time to gloat. They have in mind our misfortune of not having the pleasure of this winter wonderland descending from the heavens every year. Every year. Overcoats, hats, gloves, scarves, boots, snow shovels, blankets, sweaters, and ice picks may make the season joyful, but frostbite is just plain frightful. And that brings us to common ground with our northern brethren.
First, we too must breakout the icepicks and attack solid inch thick slabs of ice. This happens more often than you may think. I know many up north do this outside their homes. Perhaps its on their walkways, vehicles or doors. Here, that icy menace is right in our home. Right where we keep the vegetables, meats and other essential food stuff of life, including beer.
Yes, I’m talking about the reefer (refrigerator) holding plates. What’s a holding plate? Well for those who remember, the Ice Man (no, not the cartoon character, the guy, usually Italian, that sold ice door to door), it’s like a miracle. In the reefer compartment and in the freezer compartment on our boat, we have 2” thick aluminum blocks that act like very cold ice blocks. No need to call the iceman to replace the ice in our “ice boxes” to keep things cold. The infrequent use of an electric compressor replaces the ice man and keeps these blocks frozen for days. This is different from your refrigerator at home which runs almost continuously. But the plates accumulate ice on their shell and must be “defrosted” monthly.
And so, with ice pick in hand we chop away the ice. Fortunately we usually do this in our bathing suite.
The second run in with ice is more welcoming: assembling sundowners. Those are the “adult beverages” consumed whenever the sun sets. Keen observers have noted that this occurs almost every day. The exception is if we oversleep a late afternoon nap. In that case they are called early evening eye-openers, but serve the same purpose: helping us translate from day to night before a restful night of sleep.
Care must be taken handling this ice as the proper amount is required for each “adult beverage”. As a general rule of thumb, the more expensive the alcoholic beverage used, the less ice is required. This comes in handy when visiting friends and judging their net worth.
This year end blog was going to wrap up 2020 and here I am writing about ice. In many ways, the year seemed like the onset of another Ice Age. We became frozen in place: eight months in St. Lucia and we are now in Antigua indefinitely. Our faces are covered to protect us from pandemic winds, social distancing precludes hugs and we are unable to move about in the drifts of uncertainty.
Well, hindsight is always 2020 but somethings are best forgotten. I think we all can agree that we can write off 2020 as the year the wheels fell off the wagon, common sense and decency kicked the bucket, the country bought the farm, the sky fell, the river either ran dry or overflowed, people played with half a deck, too many were not the sharpest knives in the draw, and the fat lady finally sang.
Christmas Eve and Day dinner was celebrated aboard by Maureen and I with video visits from our family. Fireworks on New Year’s Eve at midnight in English Harbor, Antigua Yacht Club and Pigeon Beach were viewed from Kalunamoo. The little group of cruisers in our bubble have gathered together for occasional sundowners, a music jam on board, movie night, dominoes and restaurant nights. Hope springs eternal because we all believe the New Year holds the promise of better times ahead.
The strong Christmas winds have been blowing for two days and they should be able to bring in the New Year without difficulty. So as the New Year dawns, let the thawing begin! Lets all have some fun, in 20-21! HAPPY NEW YEAR!