There was a time when going on a picnic was a great treat. We planned a luscious menu and fished out the myriad food containers from their hiding places behind the chafing dish or under the salad spinner. We made sure we had all the accessories necessary for relative comfort. Basic picnic blanket, moth-eaten sleeping bags for padding; and for headrests for that after-gorging slumber, aged canoe cushion (long ago rendered non-buoyant).
Do olives go in the potato salad? Or are they just on the side, so the young ones can play with them if they get bored? What about pickles? Dill or sweet or how about those horribly salty ones home canned by neighbor Esmerelda? Shall we lug a cooler of variety sodas or an insulated jug of lemonade or iced herb tea? (No, Dawn Sunshine, not that herb!)
And what about the bread; do we make up the sandwiches first, or keep the fillings separate until we serve-and then find out we left them on the counter at home?! Is it chocolate chip or peanut butter cookies? Which draws less ants-or more, if we want to study the wild kingdom? Or shall we just do fried chicken and bring those really cheap paper napkins that are good only for shredding stickily on one’s greasy fingertips?
Finally, we get the old pickup loaded, pour the kids in the back and stuff gramma in the front and away we go! After changing that pesky flat left front tire. If we’ve got it right, the site of our grand luncheon is close enough so that the dog hasn’t drooled over everybody before we get there.
Then out comes the blanket and the cardboard box. The box is ‘cause the wicker basket fell in the stream the last time and got swept over the waterfall. The little ones are busy jamming food into their faces (when they’re not jamming their fingers into one another’s ears), granny is happily occupied with gumming a celery stick, and the dog is eagerly looking for toads or snakes or anything else to worry.
Aaah, nature! A light breeze stirs the tree limbs above this perfect spot, and for these moments, all’s right and peaceful with the world.