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Let’s not forget the simple pleasures rediscovered during the pandemic. Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

The parts of the pandemic we shouldn’t leave behind 

By Meg Walburn Viviano 

How often do parents and grandparents wistfully speak of their youth as “a simpler time”, wishing for a return to a more wholesome, slower-paced lifestyle? Folks of a certain generation recall time spent at home as a family gathered around a single TV or radio—a contrast from today’s individual devices and social media videos. Children played outside with their neighbors, rather than being shuttled around to extracurricular activities. People didn’t frequently jump on planes for a long weekend away, instead enjoying the resources closer to home like the Chesapeake Bay. 

In a pandemic twist, some of the simple, wholesome pursuits of yesteryear have come surging back. Our grandparents couldn’t have predicted it would take a worldwide health crisis to restore the simple life. But in some ways, our limited options allowed it to happen. Because COVID-19 took away our busy on-the-go activities like festivals, international travel, cruises and big gatherings, Chesapeake Country rediscovered favorite activities that center around staying close to home and getting outdoors. 

Since last spring, families are planting gardens, hiking, fishing, and boating. At the height of the pandemic, things like making sourdough bread and completing jigsaw puzzles were all the rage—pastimes that would otherwise seem quaint and old-fashioned. 

Some activities grew in popularity by necessity. When grocery stores struggled to keep staples in stock, some people bought directly from local farms. Others began frequenting farmers markets for the first time, feeling safer doing their shopping outdoors.  

While we’ve thankfully moved past the panic and food shortages of a year ago, many of the people that started “buying local” have continued the habit. Some realized what my family has known for years: the farmers market isn’t just a food-shopping errand—it’s an experience!  

At our cherished Saturday market, my husband buys his favorite ground-to-order coffee, the kids gulp down fresh-squeezed lemonade, and I buy a box of pastel-colored macarons in flavors like pistachio and lavender-vanilla. Oh yeah—and when we have time, I also pick up fresh fruit and corn on the cob, squash, or other in-season produce.  

Farms and farmers markets have blossomed, and in some cases expanded, thanks to all the renewed interest in local food sourcing. In Love with Local helps you find out more about the markets near you. 

And farm-fresh food is not the only way to enjoy the products of nature in Chesapeake Country: in this week’s issue, our Gardening for Health column makes a strong case for buying local when it comes to cut flowers. And our Sporting Life columnist walks you through how to catch your own rockfish dinner on a fishing charter. Like the farmers market, it’s not just a food source, it’s a whole experience. 

While pandemic restrictions continue to ease and events gradually resume, my hope is that we won’t lose the simple life altogether—my hope is we’ll protect some of our family time, stay close with our neighbors and keep enjoying the outdoors. And maybe even bring home some fresher-than-fresh farmers market goodies straight from our local producers. Yum!