The Cracker Barrel, where I met a friend for lunch, is a strange place: a chain restaurant that markets the aura of a small-town eatery. The restaurants are strung along interstate corridors, all alike, down to the "old" photographs and knickknacks inside and out.
What amuses me most are the rockers and game boards lining the breezeway, not because I've ever stopped to sit and play but because, in a roundabout way, they remind me of my Virginia grandmother's porch. There, where it was cool, the family gathered on summer evenings and talked until bedtime, conversation punctuated by blinking fireflies.
Big business will never capture the easy and aimless intimacy of family conversation, but it's encouraging to think that people want it even away from home.