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Finding Way to Put the ‘Social’ back in Social Distancing

May 4, 2020

*Disclaimer: All these pictures were taken in previous summers, don’t be alarmed by the lack of social distancing and communal eating (;

I don’t know about you but this weekend Spring finally hit in Boston. We were finally outside, gardening and dreaming of summer. But what does summer look like in the age of Covid?

We spend our summers on a lake in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Part of what makes this place so special to me is the sense of community. It is rare that a night goes by that we don’t have a social gathering.  Do we have to give that up, or do we just have to adapt?  This question was on the mind of my friend Angie. We have been chatting and she told me she had an idea for me that I may want to write about. The second I read her note, the wheels started spinning.  Angie was right – I did want to write about this.

Here is what Angie wrote to me about what small gatherings could look like as we are allowed to slowly come out of quarantine and move from Zoom parties to in-person gatherings. Here are the questions that Angie was thinking about as we are allowed to slowly and safely “get back out there” 

“What about a small cocktail party or a handful of friends over for dinner? Are we going to want to have people milling around an appetizer table all touching the same knife to cut a piece of cheese or dipping their fingers into the same chip bowl? Or are we going to have to plate the appetizers for grab and go – meaning grab and walk away from the table? Are dinners going to be reminiscent of the 50’s, no buffet or family style, but seated guests with the host/hostess plating and serving?”

These are all good questions.  So much of what I love about summers in Vermont is how social it is.  (I am sure this is not a surprise for those of you who know me). Some nights we have planned get-togethers, but most nights it just organically comes together. But it is always together.  So how can we adjust and adapt to not lose that sense of community, but also stay respectful to the reality that is Covid?

A typical get together in Greensboro usually involves a potluck. BYOB and something to share. And there is ALWAYS a cheese plate of some sort. 

I am obsessed with cheese plates. I love how they taste, how they look and how it makes any occasion feel like a party.  This is especially true in Greensboro, the home of Jasper Hill Farm (the best cheese ever) and also Angie’s family business. Her summer revolves around constantly entertaining cheesemongers.  BUT, cheese plates are not exactly a social distancing party platter. So how do we move to distance entertaining?

So let’s brainstorm – how can we do this?  One of the Instagram accounts I love to follow is @aintoproudtobegmeg. She makes cheese plates for a living, how awesome is that???  Anyway – she is figuring out ways to adapt, and making fabulous cheese bowls and cones.  So that is one option. Maybe it becomes BYOE, bring your own everything and we all just sit far apart. Do we all pack a picnic, put it in a canoe, and gather on the lake?  What are going to be the limits on the number of people we can have over at a safe respectable distance?  

I don’t think any of us have the perfect answer. I think we will all just have to start out safe and slow and figure it out as we go along. To think, the biggest problem we had last summer that revolved around a gathering was who to invite, or that ingredient you couldn’t find at Willey’s (our small local store).  I think now more than ever we need each other and hopefully, we can figure out a way to enjoy each other without endangering each other.

If you have any fabulous ideas please share and comment below. There are no wrong answers (unless it’s sneezing on a cheese plate) … 

Also, you can find my friend Angie on her fabulous blog.

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  1. Loooooove the gather in a canoe and BYOE idea! I can just see it – each canoe has its own lantern light and then a lantern lit, paddling procession in the starlight at the end of the night. Sounds lovely!

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