My First Public Dinner
Katherine invited me to a Public Dinner last night after we had spent an hour or so talking in a coffee shop. I looked at her with a confused expression, before quickly saying yes, and then in the next breath asking what the heck is a public dinner. She informed me that it is a Down East tradition to have these gatherings of friends and family at different locations, most often churches, where a sort of communal dinner takes place. Cost of entry, $6 for all you can eat and drink. Well, that was all the information I needed to know that this was going to be fun.
Off we headed to a local church on the edge of a beautiful harbor where the cars were lined up in the parking lot and people were entering the downstairs of the church carrying platters of food or gift donations for door prizes. This particular church is in the heart of a small and close knit fishing and lobster community. I was instantly greeted at the door by a lovely woman and her husband who had been married something like 60 plus years. She instantly had me laughing with goofy jokes and two warm and hearty hugs. Introductions took place, and I immediately felt at home with the warmth and friendliness extended to me by those in attendance.
The hall was roughly filled two thirds of the way, what I would later learn was a modest turnout. The tables were lined with all kinds of down home foods, deviled eggs, macaroni and cheese, several dishes of gello and cool whip, one slightly odd popcorn salad and lots of other delicious home cooked food. For someone used to eating such a bland diet, this offered up all fat, carbs, sugar, and protein that I longed for. The drink table was made of water, lemonade, milk and chocolate milk. This all proved to be an amazing feast only to be topped by an incredible layout of deserts. Cakes, cookies, and other assorted treats capped a delicious meal.
I then learned what was to be done with the raffle tickets that were given to us as we entered the door. The tradition of handing out tons of door prizes to almost everyone in attendance lasted more than 30 minutes and provided more than a few laughs. The prizes ranged from potted plants to 10 pounds of lobster and everything in between. After a bit, my number finally came up and I was awarded a lovely little stuffed doll which I later gave to an adorable young girl. I asked her to take care of him for me and we named him Lolly.
This whole experience once again reinforced the pure beauty of these sea side communities. Made of people that live largely off the sea and the land, they work hard through the year and rely on one another to get by. They may be incredibly protective of their waters and those that fish them, they are equally giving to those passing through, especially to those travelling by water. I do believe however, this was the first time they had ever met a kayaker that paddled up there way from Key West. Each time I experience these types of events, I realize how much I have longed for this sense of community, something I never experienced before beginning my odyssey.
If you ever get the chance, make sure you dont pass up the opportunity to attend one of these fabulous events. In the meantime, no matter where you live, why don't you create your own little Public Dinner and help foster a sense of community in your home town.