The Night the Lobster Didn’t Come to Almost an Island

They say it’s not what happens in life, but how you react to what happens that makes you who you are.  Welp, if this is truly the case then after Saturday night I may be in trouble.

First, let me back up by reminding you dear readers that it has been an incredibly cold, incredibly long winter.  Case in point it’s May 1st and this is what I woke up to:

May Day! May Day! Send help I live in the Northwoods of Wisconsin!

Now this alone would not be enough to bring me down, I’m a tundra girl and we are bred to never EVER complain about snow.  Rather, it’s the isolation from such weather that will make you batty, whether it’s being forced to stay inside with people who are frankly starting to annoy you, or deciding it’s not worth it going back to the only open place in town for the fifth time this week.  How many Wing-dings from the PI Pub can a girl get excited about?  I mean, the answer is actually way more than you might think, but still.

So I was pretty excited about the kickoff to Presque Isle’s Social Season (and yes I placed my tongue inside my cheek before I typed that) known as the Annual Lions Lobster-fest.  Always held on the last Saturday in April, this fundraiser has gone through some changes over the years, but in one way or another, it is always the big event.  Highlights from the past years include blizzards, live music, collaboration with the Lioness, spills and thrills, dry taps, and the like.  Put it this way, you take a group of Northern Wisconsinites who haven’t seen the sun much less seafood in six months, put a bunch of lobster in front of them, and things are bound to get a little crazy.  I mean crazy fun of course, but that line has been known to blur.

I spent the week watching the weather forecast for Saturday (not very warm but not so cold as to prohibit stupid shoes – check), made sure my favorite couples had tickets and a pre-party plan (this year at Kelly & Brenda Dyre’s, a mile from the party – check) and for the first time, my date and I sprung for a lobster each and a slab of prime rib between us (known in the supper club world as Surf & Turf – check check check!)  I was a little worried when an out of town family member arrived in Minocqua on the same weekend, necessitating a dinner date the night before at Norwood Pines.  Knowing full well the smorgasbord waiting for me on Saturday I ordered the walleye, broiled please and hold the butter!  I probably came off like a health nut to the rest of the table, little did they know I was only preserving room to throw down more seafood than Spongebob Squarepants the following day.

Oh yes…you will be mine.

I can’t remember if I cried they day the music died, but I can tell you how I reacted at 3:15pm on Saturday when I got a text from a friend who was at a little girls birthday party, her Grandpa a Lions member in attendance:

Friend: Omg no lobster 2nite.  They missed their flight.

Me:  Hahah VFFunny.  Have had nothing but water and saltines all day and I am ready.  Just getting dressed, should I wear the strappy heels or the wedge sandals?  It’s only 41 degrees.

Friend:  No am serious it is walleye now!  Kirby Redman said the weather held them up.  So walleye and prime rib.

Me:  I’m sorry but that is not funny.  I know you’re kidding but you’re a horrible friend.

Friend: No I’m not kidding.  (lots of sad emojis)

Me:  Are you sure it’s OUR Lions event?  Kirby Redman is from Minocqua so it could be a different Lions event.  He likely belongs to several Lions Clubs.  You’re not even from PI so you probably got it wrong.

Friend:  Maybe, but he left the bday party early and said he needed to head up to PI to help prepare emergency walleye.

I would like to be able to show you the rest of the text messages that ensued, but they really aren’t blog appropriate.  Just a bunch of stuff about how heads are going to roll, and I just had walleye the night before and didn’t even put butter on it, and that’s what happens when LionESS aren’t involved, and what airline was it that took off without my lobster so I can write an op-ed piece to the New York Times so piercing it grounds them for all of eternity, and is there any chance the PI Pub has 250 fresh lobster on hand, and OMG I’m so hungry for lobster.

Next call was to one of our dinner companions, my BFF since 4th grade Terri Wise, who cemented herself as the forever good (to my bad) egg in our friendship by responding that I should buck up and remember that it’s a fundraiser for a good cause and after all, we love walleye.  She said instead of Surf and Turf it will be Lake and Turf, and to be honest she doesn’t even really like lobster and she was planning on giving me hers anyway.  Of course this just made me melt down all over again to mourn the second lobster that I never even had a chance to meet and fall in love with, and then eat.  Of course we will all still go, she said, and you will have a great time.

Hungry Norwegian Female seeks Red Lobster for butter, bisque and ? My hot tub or yours.

The downhill momentum continued as I came toddling out of the bedroom in my stupid shoes to assemble my appetizer for the pre-party.  The Boyfriend looked down and said ‘Why are you wearing those?’ which anyone knows in lay-persons terms means ‘Those look stupid.’  I kicked them off, yanked the same brown Sorel boots I have been wearing for six months out of the coat closet and said ‘Fine! I guess I’ll just dress for snow and eat walleye for the rest of my life, now let’s just go and get this night over with.’  We headed off to the cocktail party where guess what?  My fun, pretty girlfriends were all wearing stupid shoes.  Missing out on lobster is one thing, but missing out on one of the few chances I get to wear stupid shoes in Presque Isle?  It was just too much to bear.

They say chicken soup is good for the soul, but do you know what’s good for a 44 year-old grown woman in the middle of a temper tantrum?  Friends with wine.  Brenda saved the shoe mishap by digging out her 9 year-old daughter Karsyn’s spring concert sandals, which amazingly matched my outfit perfectly.  We flung the Sorels into her mud room and she poured me a stiff sauvignon blanc, and soon the chat and laughter started to flow as well.  My younger brother Cal and his wife Sarah and the rest of us who’ve all lived here umpteen years told funny stories about Lobsterfests of the past, reminiscing about epic hook-ups and slip-ups and everything in between.  By the time we made it to the Lobster Walleyefest, let’s just say you could have soaked a loaf of bread in butter and I might have believed it was lobster.

How cute are these shoes!? Thanks Karsyn! (The pic is a little blurry but so was the cocktail party)

Checking in with Lion Scott McPherson upon arrival, I learned that most of the guests had not only laughed off the incident, they chose to donate the discount offered back to the club.  Instead of panic-stricken, by the time we arrived the Lions and their volunteers were all smiles and laughter, everyone making sure that a good time was still had by all.  The raffles were auctioned and the bar was full, and despite the lack of lobster there was an air of celebration and camaraderie with the return of many snowbirds, and even plenty of stupid shoes for me to check out.  And dammit, even if there was still snow on the ground, in our hearts and minds it was now officially spring in Northern Wisconsin!  Cue Barry Manilow, “Looks Like we Maaade It….”

Having fun, celebrating Spring

And cue my finally getting it that this night was about an incredibly hard-working group of Presque Isle Lions whom I have seen year after year, not to mention the many volunteers and generous hosts at Skyview Lodge, busting their butts to put on a great event and give back to the town.  As for the Lions, these are the gentlemen who installed lights at the town skating rink, sell brats and set up rummage sales, host the blood drives, send kids to summer camp and overall just help others in need.

No one wanted those lobster to miss their flight, no more than I wanted to see that four inches of snow this morning.  You know what though?  Pardon the french but shit happens, and you should count yourself lucky if you live and play among people who know how to make the best of it, and see the good in whatever bad might be happening, because I promise you the good is always there to be seen.  And the walleye was fabulous, by the way.

My mother Peggy and older brother Adam each owned Skyview Lodge for almost 30+ combined years way back when, and have hosted this event many times.  It is a challenge on everything from logistics to the septic system (now there’s a stinker of a story from back in the day, I’ll let Adam tell it) so they know what goes into pulling the night off…come hell, high septic-water or walleye.  Although Mom herself missed Lobster Feed this year, since she and hubby Bill have been on a whirlwind trip to New Zealand for the past several weeks.  I have to say though, when she What’s App’d me from the Polynesian Island of Farakava the next day to see how the night went her response to the lack of lobster was less than comforting to me.

Mom:  2 bad.  Could really go for some fresh walleye actually!  I’ve had lobster coming out of my ears here.

Thanks for the sympathy Mom. My heart really bleeds for you, BTW.

I think you have to look at the winter that will not end in the same way.  The photo of my driveway sure isn’t anything to write home about, but just down the road a mound of snow was melting into an impromptu pond that was turning into a stream that was finding its way through the woods.  It even smelled good.  No matter how muddy and ugly it feels on some of these gray days there’s certainly a flow to life that is pretty beautiful, if you can learn to follow it.  Thanks for following it with me from Almost an Island!

Curb unappeal

Making a river through the woods

See ya next year, Larry.

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