Thursday, August 27, 2009
It wasn't too long ago that picnics by the roadside were common. Families on vacation, couples daytripping, the occasional biker cleaning the bugs out of his teeth, all used the tables that sprinkled the countryside. When I was a kid on vacation, the rule for picnicked breakfasts was that after checking out of the motel, we had to drive at least an hour before we could stop and fry our eggs and bacon on the Coleman. My parents said it made the food taste better; I now know that breaking up long car trips commits an important act of sanity. Besides, bacon and eggs and cinnamon buns eaten outside do not need time to improve them.
There are very few roadside picnic areas left. And those that still exist, like the lovely little riverside park just north of Wiscasset on Route 1, seem either to be closed or severly under-used. Perhaps the two are related. Tables still adorn the wharves of seaside towns, but they serve restaurants like the Cod End and Miller's and the Dip Net in Port Clyde, and some days, when it's hot and the patrons prefer to eat their clams in cool, they too are unused, and are watched over only by people-less cars waiting for the return of the Laura B. Most folks seem to want fast food for lunch, to be eaten on cool plastic seats or, fast food yet faster, on the road behind the wheel in a dangerous ballet of burger and fries and supersized soda. But I ask you: what can be better for your health and well-being than bread and cheese and chocolate and fruit at an outside table, or on a hillside, or on a slab of pink granite slanting into Penobscot Bay?