How does that song go…”Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. Those days of soda and pretzels and beer…” A catchy little song that Nat King Cole sang beautifully so many years ago.
Summer...it took awhile but it’s finally here with beautiful long days of sunshine and soon the dreaded humidity.
New England has so many activities to offer residents and visitors of all ages, especially during the summer months. We have State Parks, public beaches, state forests, mountains to climb, trails to hike and bike, science museums, historic sites, aquariums, art museums and galleries, antiquing, canoeing/kayaking on New England’s many rivers and lakes, whale watching and bird watching…just to name a few. And I can’t forget our beautiful golf courses and the challenges many of them offer.
I’ve played golf on a number of courses in New England but more important…I’ve had the pleasure of walking around some of the most beautiful courses in the country following our daughter as she competed in tournaments. Yea…she’s that good. With a handicap of 3, she’s a contender. Scrapbooks bursting at the seams filled with newspaper articles and bookcases filled with awards and trophies reflect her skill.
- Enjoy a hot air balloon festival. If you’re in the area of Wakefield RI, Lewiston ME, Stowe VT or Queche VT, you’ll get to see dozens of beautifully colored hot air balloons and maybe even take a ride!
- Take in a sugar house tour and purchase some tasty maple syrup, maple cream and chocolate covered maple sugar acorns to take home. If you want a delicious recipe for Maple French Toast click here to read my blog “Seasons of New England, Part 4”
and get the recipe.
- Do you like a good Polo match…or are just curious? Pack a picnic and head to Portsmouth RI.
- If you’re into Jazz Festivals, there a few to choose from, like Goshen CT, Newport RI and Provincetown (on the tip of Cape Cod). And may I suggest the Litchfield Jazz Festival.
- If in Vermont, take in the Burlington Jazz Festival June 1st thru 10th.
- Or…if Bluegrass is more your style, how about the Pemi Valley Bluegrass Festival held in Thornton NH. If you’re in Vermont, you could go to the Basin Bluegrass Festival in Brandon or another Bluegrass festival in Tunbridge June 21st thru the 24th.
- And if country music is your fav… you’ll be happy to know, for the first time ever, a 3 day Country Music Festival will be held at the NH Motor Speedway in Loudon NH next summer. Start making your travel plans now ‘cuz this is will be a huge event.
Before being converted to a NASCAR oval race track and re-named NH Motor Speedway, it was simply known as Bryar Motorsports where car clubs like Sports Car Club of America, Corvettes of MA and Porsche Club of America held races. Bryar, originally built for motorcycle racing, was 1 3/4 miles with 10 turns. Built with motorcycles in mind, my 1965 911 Porsche did quite well and I competed in dozens of races, winning or placing in the top 3 more times than not. I was also a race instructor with the Porsche Club, not only at Bryar, but Limerock CT and Watkins Glen NY. This was all quite fun but not as much fun as driving.
- New Englanders love festivals and there are plenty to enjoy. We have music and art festivals, craft brewers festivals, arts & craft festivals, strawberry and blueberry festivals, a rhubarb festival and even the Maine Whoopie Pie Festival in Dover-Foxcroft ME on June 23rd. Yes…an entire festival devoted to the whoopie pie. Gotta tell my daughter about this one, for sure.
- While in Maine, take a drive to Booth Bay harbor during June 24th thru the 30th where you can see the grand merchant sailing ships, Navy vessels, concerts and fireworks.
- Can’t forget flower shows: the Newport RI Flower Show is huge and you can tour a Newport Mansion while there. Or if you are on the Cape, check out the Hydrangea Festival in early July.
- Have you ever been to a film festival? There are several to choose from depending on where you want to travel. Here are just a few suggestions:
- If you are in RI, specifically Providence and Newport, please check out the Rhode Island International Film Festival.
- There’s the Fine Arts Festival in Westport, CT featuring over 150 artists and artisans.
- What is Vermont noted for? Cheese, of course…and if you’re driving through the state, check out the annual VT Cheese Makers Festival in Shelbourne. Sounds cheesey but Vermont has the highest number of cheese makers per capita in the US. It’s totally a foodie event but if in the area, you really should attend and taste all that Vermont has to offer.
- Attention seafood lovers…I’ve got you covered! Take in the Yarmouth ME Clam Festival July 20-22. Now you’re talking my language! Think about it…over 6,000 lbs of clams and 6,000 lobster rolls, music, clam shucking contests, a parade, street dancing, fireworks and a bike race. OK…back to the 6,000 lbs of clams and 6,000 lobster rolls…I’ll see you there!
- How about this for an idea…the annual Maine Lobster Festival at Rockland Harbor Park on August 1st thru 5th. Five days of fun lobster feasting! 25,000 lbs of freshly caught lobster by local fishermen. After filling your belly with hot, succulent lobster you can tour Navy ships if you’re up to it.
Use 1 lb fresh steamed lobster… the tail, knuckle and claw meat and cut into large chunks. If the claws are small, leave them whole. Take one stick of softened salted butter and butter both sides of 4 split hot dog rolls. Toast the rolls in a skillet until golden on each side. Melt the remaining butter and let the lobster meat warm in the melted butter. Smear a little mayonnaise on the rolls and load them up with lobster. Drizzle a bit more melted butter over the top of each lobster roll if desired.
Let’s get back to our summer events…
- Check out the Sailfest in New London CT. There will be rides, fireworks, artisans, vendors and music entertainment as you take in the beauty of the magnificent tall ships.
- Love antiquing? Take a drive to Brimfield MA for the largest outdoor antique show in the Northeast. Or, if you’re in Maine, you’ve got the Maine Antiques Festival in Union.
- To help celebrate our Independence Day, plan to visit Boston MA and enjoy the Boston Pops Orchestra as they play on the banks of the Charles River. You’ll enjoy amazing fireworks and my favorite…when the orchestra plays Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” where real cannons are featured and you can hear church bells off in the distance. Been there, done that…a totally memorable evening under the stars.
- Take a hike… seriously or climb a mountain.
While skunks are mostly nocturnal, they can also be encountered during daylight…I can attest to that. Years ago, as I walked into my garage I saw what I thought was one of my furry after-ski boots. Wondering how it got there, I went to pick it up when it suddenly moved and scurried away.
How do you get rid of the stink?
If you or your dog are unlucky enough to get sprayed by a skunk, it’s not an easy task to get rid of the stink. The substance is acidic and oily; it burns, it’s pungent and it lasts.
Try this remedy: 1 quart hydrogen peroxide, 1 quarter of a cup baking soda and 1 teaspoon liquid dish soap like Dawn. Wash with this mixture or wash it into your dog’s fur and let it sit for about 5 minutes and then rinse it out.
Food for Thought…
Have some freshly caught seafood. Click here to read my blog “What is the Best Fresh Seafood?” where I discuss lobster…where to get the best and how to prepare it. While you can get lobster just about anywhere in New England, Maine has the reputation of having the best tasting fresh caught lobster in the country.
Did you know… over 5,300,000 lobsters are eaten every year in Bar Harbor alone. Yumm!
I remember, as a child, visiting friends of my folks at their summer home in Bar Harbor. I didn’t particularly enjoy their “beach” of rocks but was fascinated by all the jelly fish and remember trying to scoop them up to the surface for a closer look with one of the rowboats’ oars. This was the summer I caught mussels for the first time…and Mom prepared them for a mouth watering dinner that evening.
So, take a drive up the coast of Maine and fall in love with the lighthouses, beautiful scenery and rocky shore. As you drive through Wells, on Rt 1, stop in at the Maine Diner and order the Lobster Pie…it is to die for. It’s generously loaded with huge chunks of buttery lobster caught that morning. Make sure you tell owner, Dick Henry, Mike and I say “hello”. But don’t let the name “diner” fool you…this restaurant is famous for it’s seafood and has been featured on TV shows as well as the Food Network’s hit “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” with Guy Fieri. Check out their menu at www.mainediner.com and maybe even have their famous Lobster Pie shipped to you to enjoy a piece of Maine this weekend.
I remember one summer going white water rafting on the Penobscot River in Maine. It was a long day starting quite early with training, learning how to paddle on the raft (and to never stop paddling) to learning what to do should we fall out. Then we got geared up, fitted with helmets and assigned a raft…mine was named “Pure Screaming Hell” for good reason. It was an awesome 14 miles of spectacular scenery, class 4 and 5+ rapids and steep 5 and 7 foot drops. To call it thrilling would be an understatement. Would I do it again? Hell, no…been there, done that…but I highly recommend it for the fantastic experience it is.
If you love whales…
and who doesn’t. Take a drive to Newburyport, MA and go whale watching. This makes for a fabulous day trip and at the end of your cruise, stop in at Michael’s Harborside for a delicious and mouth watering seafood dinner…so fresh it almost swims onto your plate.
Dine on the deck and watch the boats being put to bed for the night and the seagulls waiting patiently for scraps to be tossed their way. Even though they ask you not to…you can’t help it.
And save some bread to feed the small striped Bass referred to by my husband and his old friends as “schoolies”.
Another childhood memory…
Even though my summers growing up were spent at our lake house on Lake George in upstate New York, there was always something so special and unique about visiting my grandparents at their place on Cape Cod and eating the best fried clams I’ve ever had.
I love the smell of the salty air on the Cape and remember catching Fiddler crabs on the beach in front of my grandparents home as the tide went out wanting to bring a few home with me… and one summer I did.
I remember my grandfather loading all of us into the boat to head out to the sandbar for an afternoon of exploring, swimming and building sand castles. I loved collecting shells and could always spot a seagull nest or two nestled in the sand and tall grasses.
May I suggest…
Table 38’s summer favorite: Antioxidant Berry Spritzer
In a tall glass, mix 1 1/3 cups club soda with 1 teaspoon sugar, or Truvia, a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a handful of fresh berries. To kick it up add a splash of vodka or gin, toss in a few ice cubes and sit outside in the fresh air to enjoy your gardens and the wildlife that summer brings.
A Few New England Feathered Favorites of Summer
Here’s an idea… Go on a bird watching day trip or simply enjoy these winged beauties in your own yard. Some birds live in New England year round and their feathers just change color from summer to winter but the arrival and departure of other birds indicates the end of one season and the beginning of the next. A few of the varieties we enjoy here include:
Cardinals… one of my favorites, especially males in the winter with their striking red color. But, the male cardinal (pictured to the right) isn’t the only red bird in these parts…the Scarlet Tanager has a solid red body and black wings.
A common visitor to our feeder is the Bluejay. They like to hog the feeder but also enjoy acorns…who knew? I can’t forget the harbinger of Spring…the Robin.
Another favorite of mine are little Chickadees. They are a tiny bird and look like they are wearing a black cap on their big round head. Chickadees are brave little birds and I can get within inches of them as I attempt to fill the feeder.
The Tufted Titmouse…his name can be remembered because this little guy (pictured to the right) has a pointed crest of feathers on his head.
Another all time favorite is the Hummingbird. I love these tiny little birds and enjoy watching them dart from flower to flower collecting nectar with long narrow beaks and then zoom away to another colorful flower…their wings never stopping. If you have flowering nectar plants such as day lilies, Bee Balm, milkweed (which comes in over 30 varieties), violets, Salvia and Butterfly Bush, you’ll have Hummingbirds visiting your garden every day. They love bright colors like red, pink, yellow, orange and purple. Just last week I saw a baby Hummingbird and at first wasn’t sure what I was looking at. I never saw a baby one before.
New England is home to the White-breasted Nuthatch… blue-gray, white face and streaks of black on their wings. These guys like to eat bugs found in tree bark. We’re home to the Red-headed Woodpecker, which is louder than you may think. The American Goldfinch male (pictured to the right) is bright yellow, wears a black cap and his wings are dipped in black. The females are also yellow but muted in color. Some days we’ll see several and other days, none at all. And Bluebirds who like to nest in old woodpecker tree holes.
Next up is the Rose-breasted Grosbeak who migrates to Central America for the winter. In the evening, occasionally we can hear the Owls that live in our forest. It sounds like they are calling back and forth as if to spur creature movement on the ground. Silently they fly hunting for mice, voles and other small rodents.
If you visit Cape Cod or Plumb Island, you’ll see Piping Clover. This little guy has a short body and long legs which help him walk on the beach where they nest and often conservationists fence off nesting areas to protect them from humans and predators.
The Red Tailed Hawk is a beautiful thing to watch as it glides through the air with its fringed looking wings. It’s hard to miss him overhead because of his size.
The Bald Eagle… after decades of having no Bald Eagles due to pesticides, they’re coming back. It’s a real treat to spot this regal bird.
I must include the Blue Heron because we have one that occasionally visits the pond across the road for fish and frog dinners. They will stand ever-so-still on their long thin legs in the water waiting for dinner to approach and then using their long sharp bill…catch their meal. Our Irish Terrier, Hogan, almost caught one by one of his wings as he took flight from the edge of the pond one summer day.
Did you know… this calm, quiet, majestic bird has a wingspan that can reach 5 to 6 feet. The Blue Heron mates for life and often returns to the same nest each year to raise a family.
Boston…the Hub of New England, Especially during Summer
- Take in a Red Sox game at the famous Fenway Park
- Walk the Freedom Trail and visit the Boston Public Garden
- Have a memorable meal at the famous Union Oyster House, a national historic landmark and the oldest restaurant in America, opening its doors in 1826. It’s located right off Boston Common and the dining booths are exactly the same as they were in 1826. You can see plaques with the names of famous people who dined in a particular booth like Daniel Webster, President John F Kennedy and Louis Philippe, King of France. That’s pretty cool.
Did you know… The first toothpick used in the US was at the Union Oyster House.
I‘ve only touched on a few fun things to do while in Boston during the summer and I don’t want to sound like I work for the Bureau of Tourism, so I won’t mention shopping on Newbury Street, listening to symphony at Tanglewood or the Boston Pops on the Esplinade, touring the USS Constitution or the Tea Party boats, or strolling through Quincy Market where you can literally buy fresh seafood just off the boat.
I almost forgot…
- Go on a wine tour…yes, we do have wineries all over New England. While wine has been made in New England for hundreds of years…just in the last 50 years there are more wine vineyards and wineries than ever before.
Summer…it took awhile but it’s finally here and will be gone before we know it. So, get out there and enjoy one of the best Seasons of New England.
I welcome your feedback and comments. Do you have a favorite summer activity in your own corner of the world? Please share…I’d love to hear about it.