Making the Best Out of 2020

By Meg Walburn Viviano

There’s a clichéd phrase we’ve heard a lot this year: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. 

I think it’s safe to say we’ve made a LOT of lemonade in 2020. But here’s a new spin on the concept: when life gives you rotten pumpkins, make compost.  

Okay, it doesn’t have the same ring to it as the lemonade proverb, but it’s a great example of finding opportunity in a rotten situation. 

Over the weekend Annapolis Green, a grassroots environmental group with endless enthusiasm, collected leftover Halloween pumpkins to turn into “pumpkin spice compost” come spring. Their first weekend collecting was a big success: In just the first 24 hours, volunteers filled at least 10 large garbage cans with pumpkins that had seen better days.  

Those sad pumpkins will get new life as compost, which can be pre-ordered as holiday gifts and then used as a natural fertilizer, in place of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. All that from old, shriveled, past-their-prime pumpkins that would otherwise be thrown away. Something bad transforms into something good. 

In the midst of another COVID-19 spike—and the just-announced pandemic restrictions that come with the spike—we have little choice but to try and transform something bad into something good. For weeks we’d been planning a cover story for this issue on restaurants in Chesapeake Country—how they’re planning for the colder months when outdoor dining gets uncomfortable, what challenges they’re facing, and how they’re making the best of the challenges. 

We didn’t know just how relevant the story would be, until the 11th hour of our weekly deadline, when state and local officials began to walk back capacity limits to try and slow the sudden renewed spread of the virus. We do know that restaurants from Solomons to Annapolis’ City Dock are going to great lengths to serve customers safely and keep them comfortable ( And we know these businesses are going to need our support this winter, more than ever before. 

Some restaurants that weathered the first round of COVID-19 shutdowns are still operating at a deficit, and riding out a second wave may be near impossible. When you can, please support your local food spots—whether you’re dining in an outdoor tent under a heater or picking up dinner to-go. I’ve been rotating to-go meals each Saturday, which helps businesses and also gives me a great excuse not to cook on a Saturday. 

Some courageous food-sellers are even opening for the first time in this tough climate. Dangerously Delicious Pies (of Food Network fame) just opened their first Annapolis shop this week, ready for Thanksgiving, their busiest holiday ( I probably don’t have to strong-arm you to buy a slice of decadent pie in the name of supporting small business. 

There’s no question the current pandemic is as rotten as a November pumpkin. Restaurateurs across the region are doing their best to make good compost, and all we have to do is buy it.