Retro-Images-Picnic-GraphicsFairy-839x1024I love picnics. I adore wicker hampers and the dish sets that fit snuggly inside them. I am charmed by cheerful cotton blankets spread on smooth ground. I delight in picnic foods. Crunchy pickled things layered into mason jars and sandwiches wrapped neatly in waxed paper make my heart soar.

I can trace my pleasure in meals enjoyed outdoors to an early age. When I was four years old I was awakened from an afternoon nap by my mother who unexpectedly insisted on changing me into a dress and shoes usually reserved for church. She brushed and ribboned my hair and was completely unwilling to give the smallest hint as to what the fuss was all about.

She led me out to the backyard where the small table from my playroom sat surrounded by its tiny chairs, all but one filled with little girls. Completely out of the blue my mother had arranged an outdoor feast of miniature peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and sparkling glasses of punch. But the most wonderful thing of all was a multi-tiered cake with pillars separating the layers and frosting roses festooning the edges. I was completely astonished that such a surprise had been created just for me.

Even now the magic of that early picnic lingers. Through the years some of my most memorable meals have been enjoyed outdoors. Lemon crepes on a sunny beach, skewers of beef over a fire pit, ice cream cones on a splintery table were nicer than any restaurant. I think I’ll take my lunch outside.

Readers, do you love picnics and the like?

7 Thoughts

  1. Yes! When my older son went off to college, we had a late-day picnic on the beach with a few family friends, and we continued that tradition for many years. I loved eating on the beach as a child, always a few grains of sand mixed in with the potato chips. I like taking a cold dinner, a bottle of wine, and a candle to an outdoor concert, although these days I’m more comfortable not sitting on the ground. Outdoor dining in the summer is a must. Thanks for bringing these sunny thoughts on a cold rainy day in New England, Jessie.

    1. I miss those beach picnics and Salem and Marblehead, and I loved the clambakes when we would dig a pit on a little island. You could walk out during low tide and wade or swim back with the trash as the tide was coming back in. The kids had the job of collecting the seaweed to layer the lobster and clams with the corn. That was great.

  2. We went on lots of picnics when I was growing up, probably because it didn’t cost much and got us out of the house. Davenport, Iowa has been wonderful parks in and around it so we had lots of places to go. Wild Cats Den was a favorite. My favorite picnics were our breakfast picnics with a group of family friends. We had pancakes, sausages, eggs and bacon, cooked outside.

  3. I love eating outdoors, too. It seems to me we’re always saying, even when picking a restaurant in the warmer weather–where can we eat outside?

    One of my best picnic memories with the four of us, my husband Bill and two kids, then teenagers, having a picnic of cold cuts, cheese and bread on the wall surrounding Lucca in Italy.

  4. When I was a kid we ate outside unless the weather made that impossible. Most of the time, while we were together as a family, we ate on the porch. If we were having a cookout we ate by the fireplace my mother had built in the front yard. My favorite cookout was an ice fishing trip on the Concord River. We made a fire on an icy spot by the side of the river and cooked hot dogs and toasted marshmallows for dessert. I think the fire was over a flooded area that had frozen with the bank underneath. In any case the ice didn’t cave, And I am still here. I learned how to chop holes in the ice and set the flags and fishing gear to catch the fish. I can’t remember if we caught any that day. I just remember that we were together—my mother and her boyfriend, Henri. Or it could’ve been her boyfriend, Auguste. René? Philippe? Well who cares. It was fun.

      1. Thanks, Edith. I just reread my comment about how we would eat outside unless the weather made that impossible. Then I got to the part below about having a cookout on the ice while fishing. I thought if we could have a cookout while fishing and ice-skating on the Concord River what ever stopped us from eating outdoors?

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