Cookery Maven Blog

A Long Island Farewell

It's not every day Jack moves to Madison to start his next chapter as a freshman Badger and such a momentous occasion begged for a stellar party. Shrimp boils are a Dougherty family favorite and have enough 'wow' factor to send Jack off to Madison with a little Bayfield flair. We loaded up the Karl with shrimp, green beans, a bucket of spices, potatoes and beer and headed to Long Island on a perfect August afternoon to celebrate the kid who, for nineteen years, has brought so much joy, pride, laughter and love into our lives.

We couldn't have asked for a better afternoon— no bugs, a sun-soaked beach, warm water, dear friends and a boiling kettle of spiced water, shrimp and Corn Man corn. It's hard to put into words what it felt like, knowing that in seven days we would be driving Jack to Madison and leaving him there, in a dorm with 6,000 other freshman. It was the kind of joy with a sharp edge, that made me catch my breath and blink back tears because I understood, for the first time, what bittersweet really meant. Jack was taking his first steps towards independence and away from us but the tapestry we've woven together from nights like these will always be his connection to home and the people who love him.

One of our friends, Teddy, wrote Jack a poem and gave him Edward Abbey's wise words for a happy life. As I watched Jack shake Teddy's hand, I knew everything was exactly as it should be. Jack was ready to move on, I was ready to let him go and we've been blessed with a lifetime of gratitude— for our family, friends, countless memorable dinners and the Lake and beaches that are the backdrop to our story.

'One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast....a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.' Edward Abbey

It is always a thrill when the shrimp boil hits the table— it's sheer abundance of color and texture is amazing. It literally put a smile on everyone's face and it only got better as they ate their way through the pile of corn, shrimp, potatoes and green beans.

As the night wound down and the full moon rose over the South Channel, I took a minute to take it all in. I knew we'd be on this beach again but it would be different next time. I wanted to remember every last moment of it— Charlie's face when the boil hit the table, Jack filling up a Corona bottle with sand to take to Madison, Meghan triumphantly hoisting the paddle over head when she saw me on the beach and Will walking down the beach, camera in hand, to catch the sunset. On that August night, it was about as good as it gets and I couldn't have been happier.

I didn't want the night to end. Like all good parties, time flies when you're having fun and before we knew it, the sun had set, the boats were loaded and we were on our way back to Bayfield. Until Kathy had a brilliant idea— a moonlight swim in the South Channel. We stopped the boats, jumped into the water and spent ten minutes swimming under the luminescent moon. It was the perfect end to a perfect night.