Yes, it is true about the bubblegum ice cream. And I don’t mean ice cream flavored like bubble gum. I mean the old-fashioned kind, the ice cream with actual pieces of gum in it. This has been my Very Favorite Flavor since I discovered it at Age 6 at the Baskin-Robbins. I love the way you actually get two treats in one – the ice cream, and then the gum. I love the way the gum gets a little crunchy when it’s good and cold. Yes, I know, this is disgusting and no grown human should even consider eating this sort of rubbish, let alone ordering it whenever it’s on the menu. What can I say? I have a Vice. At least my parents did manage to deter me from my initial impulse, which was to suck the ice cream off of the gum and then store the gum on my paper napkin for later consumption. Now I just chew the gum right on up along with the ice cream. Actually, it’s even better that way. And one of the many Favorite Things I have about my A Number One Favorite Vacation Spot is that there is a super ice-cream shop in the middle of town, and they always have bubble gum ice cream on the menu, and it’s the right kind of bubble gum ice cream. I am the envy of every 7 year old in sight when I take my cone out onto the road.
This utterly revolting penchant aside, I do love cruises and lobsters, and today, we get to combine them. We’re taking a boat out to a private island where they host Traditional New England Clam Bakes. I am under the impression that this involves a big fire built into a hole dug in the sand, and plenty of shellfish and corn, and seaweed. I’m not sure where the seaweed comes into it – I doubt that we’re having a side of wakame – but I am informed that the seaweed is an essential component of the process.
We haven’t thought of doing the clambake before because my husband eats no shellfish at all, and I couldn’t imagine what appeal there would be to going on this by myself, or going with him and having him watch me eat, but we found out yesterday that this is not an uncommon issue, so they provide chickens upon request. So he’ll have chicken and corn and blueberry cake, while I attempt to eat my weight in steamers and lobsters. And then, provided I have not yet exploded, I may be able to persuade him to stop off to cap this Perfect Moment with another helping of bubble gum ice cream. Because as long as I’m going to be a total savage and eat food cooked in a hole in the ground, why not go all the way?
On a slightly more serious note, I’ve been thinking about the local cruise industry. Boothbay Harbor is deep, wide, and huge, which means that high-volume commercial boating is a more feasible option than it is in Camden, where the harbor is tiny, or in Bar Harbor, where the harbor is long and shallow. There are six or seven lines that run multiple scheduled cruises of all kinds out of this town, and add to that a thriving charter business. And while there are some charter fishing trips and a few things like the clam bake cruise, the vast majority of the boat trips that originate here are eco-tourism of some kind: see the puffins. see the whales. sea the seals. see the beauty of the coastline. see the rivers and the tidal flats. see the cool rocks.
In these days when every glimpse I unwillingly take of the news offers nothing but horror, catastrophe, and decline, and every type of human seems to be at the throats of every other type of human, and the media is selling anger, anomie, and depression, it’s all too easy to lose faith in People (a collective, as opposed to “people,” the individuals one encounters on an ongoing basis). To believe that People as a whole are low, nasty, greedy, selfish, and ultimately short-sighted to the point of self-destruction. Because all that stuff is going on, and it’s yammered about 24/7 in the news, and really, that’s all that we hear about from those sources.
I have trouble reconciling this cynical and depressing view of People with the throngs of cheerful individuals who line up to pay their hard-earned money to be putt-putted out to sea in order to watch seals playing, or to look at the trees and rocks, or to hope for whales. I know that if I polled them, some entirely depressing percentage of them would consider themselves to be on board with the recent media-fueled political attacks on the EPA, and I wonder how they reconcile that disconnect within themselves. My media-fueled low opinion of People suggests that they probably don’t even try, and that many of them may not even realize a disconnect between their avid desire to observe whales playing in the wild with their unwillingness to pay a single tax dollar to help ensure that this experience will still be available to their grandchildren.
And yet, I can’t help hoping…I hope that when they return from the whale-watch, or puffin cruise, or seal watch, or coastline cruise, that at least on some level they are aware of the majesty and fragility of nature, and inspired with some small seed to help preserve that. And I very much hope that their children grow up with the understanding that these things are Good, and that they deserve to be preserved, and that it is not worth the costs to develop every square bit of land, or to poison the oceans, in the names of Progress and Profit.