Written By CEO Dan Simpson:
Going on vacation is not a big part of my childhood memories, but it was always an adventure.
My dad was focused on starting a new life and building a house in rural Maine after leaving 12 years in the police force in Philadelphia and my mom was putting in long shifts at the hospital where she worked as a nurse to pay the bills. I am in the middle of five kids, so there were seven mouths to feed. After our initial fast start in the city lights of “MoTownPhilly”, my siblings and I were thrown into the adventure that awaited us up in rural New England on forty acres that became our playground.
We were pioneers. We hiked into the woods to find the best tree to climb or stream to fish. We built forts and got lost in our imagination, converting piles of moss and bark into delectable recipes that we cooked into a feast fit for a king!
It was not all fun and games though, as we kept a massive garden that required weekly weeding, but also yielded a bounty of root vegetables and canned goods for the winter. And speaking of the winter, we chopped, split and stacked ten cord of firewood each summer to keep us warm through the snow and cold that was always just around the corner.
I remember my older sister, Becky doing most of the cooking in our home. I learned to make an apple pie one Thanksgiving and have fond memories of my mom baking bread or setting up the crockpot with pork-chops, sauerkraut, whole apples and onions to cook all day. The few times we did go on a “vacation”, it was back to Pennsylvania, to the Pocono Mountains, where my grandparents retired. We’d walk into an oven-warmed kitchen with my Grandmother’s strawberry-rhubarb, apple and peach pies lined up on the table – evidence that she was working in the kitchen all day and preparing for our arrival. My grandfather was a chef in Philly and a cook in the Navy and he and his bride clearly shared the love for food.
Years later, when I met my wife, Kim, I discovered we too shared a love for food. After moving to Nashville, where we still live with our three kids, we formed a supper club (Kim prefers to call it a “dinner club”) which has been going on for over a decade! We meet monthly after the host decides on an international destination inspired menu. We challenge ourselves by picking recipes that are out of our reach and pair it with wine and cocktails and desserts. Everyone contributes and we have a myriad of shared memories and stories we will always cherish.
We’ve also discovered how a love for food dovetails into a love for travel, as there’s nothing like tasting homemade pasta in Florence, Italy, enjoying coffee in Antiqua, Guatemala, or entrecôte sauce au vin in Bordeaux, France.
That said, my humble beginnings bring me back to the simple pleasures that can be found in making a salad picked from our three 4×8 raised box gardens in our Nashville backyard. This, to me, is the essence of what it means to live the good life. Grand or small, it starts with gratitude and curiosity. We always have something to be thankful for. If we view life as an adventure, it is. If we savor the good moments or create them, our lives will be filled with eudaimonia, or what the Greeks called the good life.