On Saturday, at precisely 11:40 a.m., my husband and I exited the house with the kids in the double stroller and a backpack full of food. We were off for a picnic at the beach. Ten minutes later, and sweating profusely from the unusually hot St. Patrick’s Day sun, we arrived at our destination, a lovely shaded gazebo overlooking the beach and turquoise water. Lunch was nothing fancy, just leftovers from the night before. We munched our cold homemade pizza, carrot sticks, apples, and ginger cookies while the toddler explored and the baby looked around in his perpetual state of surprise. It the perfect way to spend a warm spring day and ensured deliciously long naps for all four of us.
I believe that picnics should become more commonplace because they have so much to offer us. What better way to enjoy the outdoors while combining family time and mealtime? Food can be basic or extravagant; for some inexplicable reason, it always tastes better just because it’s being eaten outside (except for the incident described below). There are fewer dishes to do and kids can run around without it being considered poor table manners – maybe because there often is no table!
There are a few rules that I’ve established, though, to ensure success every time. #1 – Never go on an overcast, rainy, or cold day. #2 – Always make sure the food is great, or at least enjoyed by all, because that makes one heck of a difference. With good weather and good food, you can’t go wrong. When you do not adhere to these rules, incidents such as the following might occur:
One freezing cold February day, my mom and her friend had the idea to snowshoe for a half-hour into the bush in order to see the sunrise and have a breakfast picnic with a campfire. Of course I went along. There was no sunrise, because it was snowing, and it was so bitterly cold that we had to hop around to keep warm while waiting for the fire to start, which it never did because both the wood and falling snow were too wet. I couldn’t get home fast enough and crawled straight back into bed.
Another time was again with my family when I revolted against the whole-wheat sandwiches filled with cream cheese and alfalfa sprouts. We had been driving, it was rainy, and I was starving. When my mom pulled out those god-awful sandwiches, I broke down and refused to eat them. Hunger was better than those disgusting atrocities, I ranted, and had to satisfy my growling stomach with celery sticks, the only other item on the menu.
By contrast, my husband took me for a sunset picnic last summer. Much to my surprise, he selected a picnic table on a pebble beach overlooking Lake Huron and laid out sparkling champagne, strawberries, and chocolate. We sat and watched the sun go down until a rogue dog peed on our cooler, signaling the time to leave.
Whether romantic or family-oriented, I intend to take my family on one picnic per week this summer. I’ll report in the fall as to how well that went!