Laid Back, New England Summer Entertaining
I came to New England for her summers.
As a little girl, my New England-bred parents (who had been transplanted to Tennessee right around the time I was born), packed up our suburban every summer and drove up the eastern seaboard (sometimes with a boat in tow, sometimes with a dog, and always with four kids with far too much energy for a 22 hour drive) to escape the oppressive southern summers. We instead replaced them with magical New England ones.
Looking back, it was such a wonderful gift.
As crazy as it sounds, I loved those drives. They were like a big family adventure, and we have countless stories from those hours on the road. But what I really loved was the destination. New England felt like heaven to me. It even smelled lovely. In the country, the fresh cut grass smelled incredibly sweet all summer long, and by the ocean, it always felt like the sea hit you before you could even see it with a wave of salty aromas. It was a trip for the senses. And I ate it up with a spoon.
I suppose I still do.
It's funny, because what sticks out to me the most about those summers are the little things. Like wearing a sweatshirt and shorts (my all time favorite cozy combo) after a day at the beach because it was actually cool enough (and I was probably sunburned). Or dinners that weren't fancy but overloaded with seafood and lasted for hours because of all the conversation (I come from a lovely and loud Irish family). And of course, ending the evening around a campfire or just at the dinner table with my dad playing the guitar.
I remember sand in every crevice, the outdoor showers, swimming for hours in water that was far too cold, those smells - and that's why I eventually packed up my little Honda Accord after college and never looked back. I knew my heart belonged here, as much as I loved Tennessee (it really is a special state) - I couldn't resist New England and her many charms.
In particular, her summers.
Now that I've been here for 14 years (holy cow), I realize New England is so much more than her summers. She's really pretty darn special year round, and I truly feel lucky to get to experience all of her many splendors. But her summers? We'll always have a special little bond.
My life wouldn't be the same without them.
So when I entertain in the summer (or really year round), I try to remember what I actually remembered way back when. It wasn't a perfectly set table (although I'm sure my mom did just that) or what I was wearing (one can only imagine my get up with it being the 90s) - it was the occasion itself, and all the little tiny moments woven into an evening that made it so special. It was the mess I remember the most.
The wonderful, memorable mess.