Sunday, August 14, 2011
Parking Lot Garden
Over vacation we took the time to eat at the Thai restaurant in Skowhegan. The fact of its existence is a sign of the changing world we live in. When we lived and worked in Skow the same building was a pizza shop that regularly rotated through management. Then it was purchased as a movie set for the HBO miniseries "Empire Falls" (based on a book by the same name). Empire Falls is a fictional town loosely based on municipalities in the area where I grew up ( I grew up in Lisbon Falls, in the Androscoggin Valley). In the book the town is definitely "working class". It is the kind of place where they barely notice the recession because there hasn't been a "recovery" for decades. Skowhegan is a bit like that, too. It feels like home.
Anyway, the building became a diner named after its role in the movie (the "Empire Grill"). It featured the "diner siding" you can see in the top picture and a faux-weathered sign out front. The breakfasts there were pretty good but, apparently, that restaurant manifestation ran its course. Now they serve up some very fine curry. The noodle dishes are OK, too. However, if you like curry, go with that instead.
What I wanted you to check out, though, is the back of the building and the garden they planted in the small space between the vertical walls and the parking lot pavement. There are a variety of herbs (including a very healthy Thai Basil plant), squash plants, and some tomatoes just beginning to ripen. This tiny garden is evidence of the sort of tenacious practicality I like about the people of my home state. I hope they have a much longer and more successful stay than their predecessors.
They were also--it should be noted--at the Skowhegan State Fair...