Tuesday, August 30, 2016

On A Picnic Morning

Some of us remember a time when lowly wooden picnic tables dotted our country roads and highways. Today my town has one table in a small grove of trees off our central road.  I've never seen anyone use it but I think about it every time I drive by.

Back before the proliferation of fast food restaurants, families carried their lunches in picnic hampers and baskets and merely stopped on the side of the road for a mid-day feast without long lines, spilled milkshakes, and assembly line food.  And picnic fare was much healthier and cheaper because it was Mom-made.

Several years ago on a lunch hour from work, I happened across a gorgeous coffee-table book about picnics. Page after glossy page showed the many ways one could craft an enchanting picnic.  The woven baskets were overflowing with delectable foodstuffs as well as bottles of wine and lush flowers.  Some of the pages showed Sharper Image-level technical picnic props such as pop-up tables and chairs, and some more fanciful spreads had real crystal, china tea cups and silver cutlery.  I was enchanted by a blanket-strewn picnic that included a candelabra replete with dangling prisms!

As I poured over the recipes, I had a revelation:   instead of spending $35 on a book about picnics, I should just have picnics!  So I returned the book to the store rack, speculating that I already had the recipes for a nice picnic right at home in my grandmother's recipe box.  One needn't have fancy pretentious food - just thoughtfully prepared provisions that are fresh and in season.  Soon I found out how much fun it is to creative outdoor repasts for friends and family.  Adding a requisite plaid blanket for sitting upon and a book makes for a delightful day that can begin in the morning and with enough refreshments, end only when shadows cast.

The picnic book did teach me one good lesson - sometimes instead of reading about how to do something, we should just do it.  And while picnics may be old-fashioned, they hearken back to simpler times when life was slow...and humble tables beckoned from every roadside.


Favorite picnic fare:

Chicken salad sandwiches with spinach leaves

Cherry tomatoes mixed with olive oil and chopped basil with ricotta cheese as a dip

Celery stuffed with cream cheese and sprinkled with paprika

Homemade chocolate chip cookies


Grapes, apples, and pears (fall)

Watermelon, peaches (summer)

Iced tea


On a picnic morning without a warning

I looked at you and somehow I knew

On a day for singing,

My heart went winging

A picnic grove was our rendezvous

You and I in the sunshine

We strolled the fields and farms

At the last light of evening,

I held you in my arms

So when days grow stormy

And lonely for me

I just recall picnic time and you.

Picnic Songwriters
G. Dunning, S. Allen 

Do you have picnics?


  1. On Saturday, as I waited on the quay for the boat to Saltspring Island I noticed that the people in the car ahead of me were pouring coffee or tea from a thermos. I hadn't seen that in a very long time. I'm accustomed to seeing everyone with the ubiquitous water bottle, but a thermos made up especially for a warm drink - well, that was something from the past. I don't know when I stopped making sandwiches for long car trips or packing a cooler for a picnic at a 'rest stop' at the side of the highway, so the answer is 'no, we don't picnic much anymore'. I think I'll have to change that before the good weather is finished. If I do, it will be worthy of a post!

  2. You've made me realize that it makes sense to pack a lunch.
    For example, you take your car in for new tires. You know this is going to take a while. A picnic outside would be so much better than the vending machine fare in the stuffy waiting room that smells of rubber tires. ;-) Even slices of apple would be great and tide you over before you get grouchy. Thank you, Donna. And I'm going to try and remember the thermos mentioned by Pondside.

  3. Give me a plaid thermos of soup, some mom-made sandwiches, a bunch of green grapes, and an orange or apple and I'm in picnic heaven! Wonderful post, Donna! I adored it!