Memorial Day in New

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Life in New England
Memorial Day Weekend in New Hampshire
A Long Weekend for Memories,
Family and an Ice Cold Swim
By Susan Nye

In New Hampshire where winter comes early and stays late, the last Monday
in May, Memorial Day, marks the beginning of summer.  The kids will get a
day off from school.   Most businesses will close, except for retailers; they will
run 3-day sales extravaganzas.  The highways and by-ways will be bumper-to-
bumper with cars as most American flock to the mall or the beach.

Memorial Day has a solemn side and its roots stretch back to the Civil War.  
Originally known as Decoration Day, it was a day to honor the soldiers who
died in the Civil War.  Families and friends decorated soldiers’ graves with
flowers and flags.  After the First World War, observances expanded to honor
not just Civil War soldiers, but all who had died in American wars.   

Over the next week or so, relatives, veterans groups and even some school
children will replace tired flags and plant flowers in cemeteries across the
country.  My Nana Nye was always busy on Memorial Day.   Loaded down
with gardening tools and geraniums, she made a pilgrimage to Brockton to
spruce up the graves of her parents and in-laws as well as a bunch of aunts,
uncles and cousins.

When I was growing up my family often headed north for the long weekend.  
We lived in the suburbs west of Boston and were always happy to spend time
at our little vacation house near Pleasant Lake.  My parents would check out
the house and make sure that no leaks had sprung during the April showers.   
Various and sundry chores were assigned to my sister, brother and I.  We
would whip through these tasks as quickly as possible so we could escape to
the beach.   Brenda and I would get the jump on our summer tans while John
went in search of tad poles and frogs.  Toes would be put in the lake and
before long; dares and double dares were thrown about.  Then as often as not
one or all of us plunged, shrieking, into the still freezing water.  

In the coming days, all along the shores of Pleasant Lake, empty summer
houses will fill up, at least for the weekend.  Windows will be thrown open to
air out stuffy cottages.  Stray squirrels and mice will be chased out of attics
and cupboards.  (One year Brenda discovered a bunch of seeds and nuts in her
bed.   We figured that mice had taken our absence as an invitation and had
moved in, snug and cozy under her quilt.)  

In houses and cottages, large and small, water will be turned back on and
windows washed.   Floors and decks will be swept clean. Beaches and yards
will be raked free of winter’s debris.   Barbeque grills will be found and put to
work.   Lawn chairs will be pulled out of storage, dusted off and set out.  
Hopefully, in time to sit and enjoy a glass of wine and watch the sun set.   
Before you know it, everything will be shipshape and ready for summer.   

With luck, there will even be some spare time for fun.  Boats, large and small,
from kayaks and canoes to sail boats to fishing and water ski boats will be
launched.  Favorite hiking trails will be rediscovered.  Games of golf and
tennis matches will be played.  And at least a few kids will plunge, shrieking,
into the ice cold lake.

My part time neighbors won’t stay long.   By late Monday afternoon they will
put away their brooms, rakes and toys and head back to the city with a few
sore muscles, black fly bites and sunburns.  Sometime towards the end of
June, the summer people will start to drift back to Pleasant Lake.  But for a few
more weeks, the lake will be left to the loons and those of us lucky enough to
live in paradise year-round.  Even if it is only for 3 days, enjoy the first
delightful days of summer with fond memories, family and maybe even a
swim in a still frigid lake.

About the author

A self-confessed “foodie”, Susan Nye likes nothing better than a crowd of
family and friends around her table.   To learn more about her cooking classes
and private chef services, visit her web site at or email her
at © Susan W. Nye, Susan Nye – Around the Table
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The Heart of New England
Celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine ~ New Hampshire ~ Vermont
Pleasant Lake, New Hampshire -- Photo Courtesy of Town of New London, NH

Usher in the summer this Memorial Day weekend with
Summer Rolls.  Click here for Susan's recipe.
©The Heart of New England online magazine
...celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine, New Hampshire & Vermont!
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