Lobster In A Forest

“Would you like a seat outside?” asks the kid at the register, punctuating each word with a click of her pen. Sit & Eat Lobster is a counter-serve stand with picnic tables covered by umbrella stands and blue plastic Adirondack chairs seated around a campfire. It sits on the side of the road and is surrounded by a horseshoe of forest. Lobster pots lay on the ground by one side of the stand, with ropes resting coiled inside each one. They look like they’re used daily to catch the food served.

I chuckle, tip her, and settle onto a bench with my meal. The blueberry soda is local and makes me think of “Blueberries for Sal.” I want to gather berries in my pail and get lost on a hill with a friendly mama bear. I take a picture of the lobster, mussels, and corn sitting on my plate and send it to my mom, with a goofy grin on my face. Proof that I am eating and alive. A breeze hits my face and I lean into the sunshine. Mom replies with a picture of her face and half of Dad’s head. I toe the gravel with my shoe, and trace lines with my feet while I sip on the soda. I make a mental note to call them once I check into my hotel.

Two kids run by my table with balloons and sticky faces. Their mom follows as they zoom in and out of the gaps between the tables. I feel a tug on my sleeve, and it’s one of them. The stickier of the two. She grins at me and shows me her yellow balloon. “Yellow!” She bops my head with it. “Yellow,” I nod and bop my head back.

“Gracie, no bopping,” her mom calls as she gently takes her hand from my shirt.

“I like a good balloon bop,” I tell Gracie, who laughs into her mom’s arm.

“Thank you,” sighs the woman, as she collects the second child, who has plopped down to dig in the gravel, under my bench.

“Bop, bop, bop!” Gracie sings out and bops the air with her balloon.

“Leigh do not throw that gravel, do not throw that – ” Leigh throws the gravel, of course, eliciting a sigh and a soft smile from her mom.

“I bet you want to go to the beach, Leigh,” I call down to her, and she nods her head.

“So do I,” I reply. “Know of any good ones around here?”

“Visiting?” asks the woman. “Road tripping,” I reply, “Just for the night.”

“Oh, I miss my ‘just for the night’ days,” she smiles. I wonder when it will be my turn to say that to someone so obviously unattached as I am now.

“They’re still fun,” I say, and I mean it. But. In my 20’s, Gracie and Leigh would have only amused me. Now I am amused and wistful.

“Enjoy it,” she says, throwing a few names of restaurants and bars my way before she gathers Gracie and Leigh and herds them away.

I lean back into the sunshine and return to my meal. The trees are still. One of the line cooks is clanging around in the kitchen with big pots for the seafood. I smell butter and corn. Everything is pleasant. A group of teenagers sits a few tables away from me. They are dissecting and ranking their teachers, and teasing each other, talking over themselves as one small symphony.

The last bite slides happily into my mouth. Stretching my legs out, I stand, admiring my sketches in the gravel. I realize that one of the kids is watching me. She stares. Her eyes assess; her mouth opens a bit. I wonder if she is about to pick me apart too. Then she nods and moves back to the noise at her table. Passed the test, it seems.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: