I 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?