Jo Ann Jaacks: Summertime, and the living is not so easy

Jo Ann's grand-twins at a family picnic.

Memorial Day was always the official beginning of summer, thoughts about fallen soldiers and a delightful picnic with my family while my father and uncle tried to get the Indy 500 on the radio. This year, the celebrations and ceremonies were either canceled or greatly limited. I was lucky to attend one local ceremony held in two town cemeteries, where the honor guard wore face masks and the three-volley salute was done more than six feet apart.

Yankee Magazine has been my go-to for discovering the best dog shack and best lobster roll in every New England state. It’s a very egalitarian approach and back-in-the-days-before-everything-changed, my husband and I tried to make the rounds so it was a real competition. The only requirement was that it could only be a day-long drive.

Maine was a challenge, but I always stopped in Portland to try the best lobster roll — plenty of choices, delightful small city, and close to the Connecticut border. One crack of dawn trip to Portland encompassed Maine Lobster Benedict for breakfast, Lobster risotto with lunch and Lobster Newburg for an early dinner before heading back to Connecticut in the gathering darkness. At this point, most of the “best-of” choices would be curbside with red arrows painted on the concrete to instruct everyone in distancing.

Although oceanside parks are open with some restrictions, I have memories of visiting all those beaches many decades ago, and they were always ridiculously crowded with barely six feet blanket to blanket. I can only imagine the crowds there now, with all the cabin-fever swimmers and sun-lovers loosed.

Summer picnics at my sister’s house have always been a favorite since she has a pool and spacious wraparound porch as well as being a great BBQ cook and even better desert baker. My husband and grandchildren enjoyed the grilled meats, pool diving, and Quad riding up the mountain trails. As my sister pointed out, family members have been quarantining together for months now, and recently eight people stayed together at the family cabin that my father built in New Hampshire. So now I’m thinking: Laissez le bon temps rouler!

Connecticut Media Group