I drove 7 hours to visit my two eldest children for Easter. I got attached to the idea of making moule frites for dinner. I brought everything I needed except the mussels which I assumed would be easy to get in Maine. Not so much as it turns out. My daughter called every fish store she could find until finally, with a supermarket 30 minutes away she was successful,”I was wondering if you have any mussels?” she sweetly asked. The next thing I heard her say was “ha. ha. ha. Do you have the kind to eat?” the tiniest bit of a hint of irritation coating her voice. I have no idea where she gets that from. “Think real hard,” she would answer. Sarcastic child.

On our drive over we saw a large hand painted sign scrawled with the words “Cherry stones, Lobsters, Mussels.” We (or rather I) violently turned into the driveway where another small sign said “Honk or knock.” I…am not a honker, I opted to knock. We walked up to the house, there were two excessively large picture windows in front. Two. With a door in between.  A man answered the door and spoke with vigor. He went back in the house and I turned to my daughter hoping that she spoke Maine. “I have no idea.” she said. Feeling uncomfortably intrusive with all of the large picture windows I back away slowly. “Where are you going?” my daughter hissed. “I’m just…away from the windows.” A young man in industrial blue pants belted high on his waist with a matching tee shirt tucked in, wearing muck boots that came up to his knees came out of the house. His nose had been broken maybe 2 or 3 times and some  teeth were missing. “Follow me to the shed,” he said and walked briskly past us leading the way. On the way over to the shed which was behind the house I felt my daughter looking at me. The intensity of her stare making my cheek grow hot until I turned my head towards her, she gave me a look that said: we are probably going to die now. I looked back: keys are in the ignition. I bravely step ahead of her trying to peer into the dark of the shed nervously looking for…the wood chipper.

We sheepishly walked away with his last 4 lbs of lovely mussels in a big paper bag. The young man was very happy I had exact change.

We thought we should still get a couple more pounds so we continued to the supermarket. When we got to the counter a man nearing 80 years of age greeted us with a smile, “Are you the ladies that called?”
Yes Mr. Muscles, that would be us.


*Dirigo is the Maine state motto – I lead


10 responses to “Dirigo

  1. This is so mundane and magical at the same time with daughter at your side, wonderfully watchful and skeptical.

  2. This should be read with duelling banjos played in the background.
    I’m a vegetarian but the best restaurant ever was a place that specialised in Belgian mussels called Belgo. they had loads of really good vegetarian side dishes so I could scoff on them for a fraction of the cost for normal people. and of course they served frites with mayonaise. and belgian fruit beer. .

  3. love this–laughed out loud, and can just picture those characters, and daughter’s expressions.

  4. nice pic, too–reminds me of our visit to Marco 2 years ago.

  5. So, the Adams Family sells mussels!?

  6. So excellent! I love that I could picture the whole scene and the two of you.

    I had a similar experience trying to find and buy smoked herring in Grand Manan, New Brunswick: Hand-painted sign. Greasy man with slippers, sateen bathrobe, bare legs. Missing teeth. “Follow me out back” to the dilapidated smoking shack. Lovely, golden, smoked fish hanging from poles above the smoldering saw-dust floor.

    I think it is a little like people being so removed from gardening or nature that they don’t know where corn or nuts come from. We are too far removed now-a-days from these artisans to recognize where they come from.

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