I confess. A fried seafood platter was the highlight of the last week. As I sit down to write this post six days later, it’s still on my mind . . . It helps, I suppose, that the circumstances surrounding the meal meant it wasn’t any old fish and chips.
An unexpected “situation,” resulted in our reluctant decision late Friday night to drive up to Maine the following morning. Once there, my husband and I ended up in Portland, where we scored an on-street parking space, and realized we were both starving. Hiking down a stretch of busy waterfront, we turned into an unpretentious place called Gilbert’s Chowder House, where the blackboard menu listed a selection of fresh fish entrees, and there was available seating on the outside deck.
Let me be clear. The morning started off grumpy. We were in Maine under what you might call “duress.” A long list of chores we’d postponed waited for us back home, and the weekend was now a day shorter. But as we situated ourselves under an umbrella at a picnic table overlooking Portland Harbor, a breeze wafted toward us carrying the briny smell of the sea and a tantalizing aroma of out-of-the-fryer fish.
If you live inland, you may not know this, but here in coastal New England, there a few things that say "summer" and "vacation" the way fried seafood does. (Okay, steamed lobster ranks right up there, but that’s another post.) The waitress handed us a small card printed with a limited menu, informed us the seafood platter would easily feed two, and placed plastic squeeze bottles of tartar and cocktail sauce on the table. We weren’t in Maine for a holiday, but all of a sudden it felt like we were.
Had we been home, my husband would have mowed the lawn and cleaned the gutters. I would have spent the day yanking prolific daisies out of the garden and grocery shopping. If we were lucky, we might have met in the kitchen for a few minutes around lunchtime, before regrouping for supper.
Instead, we had several hours of conversation in the car plus during lunch, across a crisp mountain of clams, shrimp, scallops, haddock and a side of killer onion rings. And because we had an afternoon in front of us before “circumstances” allowed us to head back south, after lunch we meandered down the coast, pulled into a nature reserve and hiked around a salt water estuary.
We could have done all of these things at home. But on an ordinary weekend, there’s a huge gap between “could” and “would,” so in the end, that which frustrated me Friday night, triggered an unexpected bonus. My husband and I had one of the nicest days we’ve had in a long while.
It was one of those times when karma was on our side—including our good fortune to be sitting in a parking lot, not cruising down the highway when an appalling thunderstorm hit on the way home. Oh, and that the top third of the fifty-foot pine tree laying in our yard when we arrived home, didn’t come close to the house, and missed the gardens on its way down.
On top of one heck of an amazing plate of seafood and the rest of the day’s unplanned pleasures, I’m delighted we weren’t home when it snapped.
Hope your weekend is filled with unexpected delights.