This Writer Hits the Road

I am going east for the summer. The suitcases are airing, boxes of writing supplies are full, the car has been tuned up. I still need to do one last load of laundry and pack. Last lunches with friends are fun, but I’m ready to take all my good intentions with me and make use of 2000 miles of solitude. I’ve been reading A Moveable Feast: Life-Changing Food Adventures Around the World, Don George, Ed., 2010. The book alerts me to the possibilities of combining my love of food with my passion for writing, but I’m bound for Maine, where I plan to eat what I’ve always eaten there. I’ll have breakfast at Becky’s Diner on the Portland waterfront, and lunch at Bintliff’s across from the big post office. Eat ice cream at Red’s in South Portland. Life-changing? No, life affirming, reminders that I still belong there. I belong at the Lobster Shack at Two-Lights. Yes, I do.

Between me and all that home-town food lies a long, long stretch of plains where so much of our food grows, a sad sameness of monoculture that will both annoy and hypnotize me. But it’s my job to pay attention, even to what I don’t like, and I don’t like the way much of our food grows in this country. I’ve written about it and made little measurable impact. But I have to keep trying. So, my voice recorder within easy reach and the GPS taking care of the route, I will watch the white line and the soy-bean space that I drive through and try to make sense of it. Think about how we got where we are, from the dust bowls to Monsanto, to the organic movement. Eating on the road will challenge me–too many fast-food familiars and too few real eateries. I’m taking a cooler, daring to think that I’ll picnic and walk the dog while we stretch from hours of driving. Exotic? Nope, but real and that’s my job, to look for what’s real and to pass it on.

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