Too many national chains can ruin a good lollygag – that semi-hedonistic ramble around a harbor town that starts with a coffee in the AM and ends with a nice lunch at a favorite restaurant. Your ramble gets easily ruined by the garish chain retail presence. It wants to sell you mall goods at coastal resort prices.

You say, but where will I get my Banana Republic fix while on vacation? Whither will come my overpriced running shoes? UPS next-day air – and you’ll improve my stock prices too. Must watch those dividend checks! 

No, if you are in one of the towns I frequent, look to get into the austere. Sit down with a coffee or tea in the town square or that little park by the harbor. Drain your brain by watching the procession of people: 

  • Notice the “streakers” – those are people bent on a mission. It’s their last day on vacation, and they decided to drop the five hundred on that little watercolor they have to have. 
  • Next are the “strollers,” who are looking for targets of opportunity. Their eyes wander; they take in the architectural detail above them and the items in shop windows. 
  • Moving slowly along the street are the “browsers.” A browser is watching the procession while standing by the shop door. This person is carefully “cogitating his veritabilities,” as a friend of mine used to say. The browser is in no particular hurry and may take hours to take in the scene.

You can return to this scene daily, monthly, and seasonally – it is unchanging and constantly changing. That’s part of its interest. Sand and the seawater wear striations into the rocks at the tide line. The tide rolls back and forth; this is a sort of human version. So sit for a while and enjoy that coffee. The show is free.

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