Lately, Mondays have been “travel days” here on the blog; I write about the places my “Lady Alone Traveler” journeys take me over the weekend. Last weekend, I took a road trip with my brother and he wrote about it on his blog. Technically, I wasn’t the Lady Alone Traveler so I didn’t blog about it myself. We had a good time, though, and maybe being a ‘lady alone” is overrated.
This weekend, I stayed close to home and early Sunday morning I decided to take a long walk. I headed north on Route 9 (Ridge Road) with a vague notion of several possible destinations. After near a mile, I crossed over onto the Bowdoinham Road.
What was this?
It was strange and creepy and thinking it might be a bad omen, I turned around, crossed Ridge Road again, and headed down the King Road. Not that the King Road is without problems. I saw a woman letting a bunch of barking Chihuahuas out of a dog pen, but it wasn’t as creepy as the plastic doll slipper, so I kept walking. If the Chihuahuas had been wearing pink plastic slippers, I would have run back to my house, but that wasn’t the case.
Once past the barking dogs, the King Road is a pleasant promenade with gently sloping hills. It didn’t seem like a long walk at all and pretty soon I was at the intersection of the Littlefield Road. I took a left and followed the Sabattus River until I came out onto Route 196, or Lisbon Road.
My unspoken destination was Benoit’s Bakery and it was in sight.
Rationalizing with myself, I decided I could have a donut if I walked to get it. Although I was temporarily stymied by the slipper and the Chihuahuas, getting that donut was the best decision I made all day. Wouldn’t it be great if figuring out everything in life was that easy? “Sure…I’ll have the biggest cream-filled donut in the case, please. Counting calories? Hell, no, Nick, I just walked three and a half miles for that donut.”
There’s only one table at Benoit’s, it being more of a “take out” place than a “sit for a spell” place. Sitting at the table on this particular Sunday were a local couple, Frank and Pam. Maybe people in town call them as Pam and Frank. I’m not sure. They were several years ahead of me in high school so I didn’t know them well. I knew they were in the “house restoration and improvement” business and they had owned the bowling alley at one time, too. I asked if I could sit down and join them and then explained who I was, mentioning the proper relatives to make my identity clear. I find that saying “I’m Bobby’s niece” generally opens more doors than “I’m Herman’s daughter” because everyone knows Uncle Bob. Don’t tell Herman, the Winter Carnival King of 1951, though. He still thinks he’s popular.
Pam and Frank and I had a good chat, talking about real estate, the local business scene, and the state of the world. We didn’t save the world; we didn’t even try. It was a chance meeting, but because we had some shared history, it was easy to be neighborly and friendly. I thought back to all the times I had gotten coffee at the surfer dude coffee shop next to my condo in Hampton in the fifteen years I lived there and how little I knew about most of the regulars. Was it me or was it because Uncle Bob wasn’t a local Hampton surfer dude from way back? I can’t even imagine Uncle Bob on a surfboard, although I saw him in shorts once last summer.
Sure, life in a small town isn’t all coffee and donuts, but knowing a few of my neighbors is one of the reasons I moved home in the first place. Who wants to be alone all the time?
And if pink plastic doll slippers, Chihuahuas, and Uncle Bob on a surfboard don’t come up, well, I know it’s going to be a pretty good day.