Lobsterfest, our traditional summer sacrifice of the immortal sea bug, turned six last weekend. Gustatory experimentation has waned in favor of striking a sort of least-effort/most-New-England balance. Lobsters are boiled whole; the beer comes out of a box. A few oysters are cracked. Upon contact with the humid air, the frozen homemade fries send up fussy wisps but it’s all show—their preparation no longer seems to present any challenge. Real effort is expended on the things that matter, like the blueberry pie. The guest’s salad? Not so much. As the hour grows late, we drink and talk, the adults gaining strength while the child fades. A bottle of hard stuff appears, against better judgment. While arm wrestling the host, Dad falls off his chair and is sentenced to a Sunday of explanation to a curious Charlotte.
I set out to write an account of the first Lobsterfest this week, since it pre-dates 13 Weekends, only to realize that it was like trying to remove a specific yolk from a plate of scrambled eggs. I found that I only remembered the largest moments and I couldn’t reconstruct the full linear story, at least not with any confidence. (Lobsterfest was born in the last possible moment before cameraphone ubiquity, complicating my “memory” of it.)
But that’s OK, since what’s happening here—and increasingly, in other places in our lives—is bigger than the story from any single year. Some of the moments from last Saturday will survive in our collective memory—will be amplified even. Most will fade into the mix. So it is every year. Over time, this collection of exaggerated moments and partial memories coalesce into something greater than its sum. Tradition and ritual are forged in these fires.