A weekly column by Catherine Dugan. This week: the Cape May Wine Festival
News flash – researchers at UCLA have found that friends are good for your health. Social connections reduce stress and lower your risk of disease. Loneliness – the absence of friendship – can be as damaging to health as smoking or obesity, and text messages are no substitute for actual facetime.
This was common knowledge for Americans in the Victorian era. Women especially were encouraged to devote time every day to socializing. Etiquette books, like Daisy Eyebright’s 1884 Manual of Etiquette, instructed readers that these visits are “essential… even if they do occupy a great deal of your time.” Eyebright made distinctions between “visits of ceremony” and calls between intimates. For example, while a lady must respect the “at home” hours on a calling card for an acquaintance, intimate friends might visit at any time. Friendships were so valuable that ladies paying visits could “appear, in the daytime, in all public places unattended by their brothers, husbands, or friends” and could meet at exhibitions, or on promenades in fashionable locations like “Saratoga, Newport, Cape May, and the White Mountains.”
While American women are no longer barred from appearing alone in public places, there are other barriers to socializing. Weekly “at home” hours have gone the way of calling cards. Today’s time-crunched society has turned friendship into a luxury, but the wise woman still devotes time to her devoted friends. And the wisest women bring their friends to Cape May.
Longtime friends Lisa and Dawn are prime examples. These high school classmates – whose kids are now in college – meet at the Cape May Wine Festival every year. This year’s event, sponsored by the Garden State Wine Growers, was held on a beautiful weekend with sunshine and crisp fall air. Over 300 New Jersey wines were featured, along with live music and food. For $20, attendees received a wine glass and the freedom to stroll, sample and chat with winemakers at the Cape May Ferry Terminal. Non-drinkers (and designated drivers and children) are free, and a two-day pass is $30.
Experienced festival participants pack a picnic and supplement their refreshments with favorite wines. Most of the wineries take credit cards, and there is an ATM inside the ferry terminal. No dogs are allowed.
Wine and friendships may improve with age, but both can be damaged by neglect. Take Mrs Eyebright’s advice and toast your friendships with some New Jersey wines. Your friends, and your health, will thank you.
Next week: Visit the Alpacas at Bay Springs Farm