Get Out and Eat!!!
Today is International Picnic Day. Did you even know that existed? I didn't, but now it is on my calendar just like Valentine's Day. Who better to remind us the joy of a good picnic than J.D. Fitzgerald?
John D. Fitzgerald delivered joy in a million ways in his books. One of his best was food. He knew how to make meals drool worthy to the reader. The apex of this skill could be found in the descriptions of community picnics. Give John a community holiday and he invited you to celebrate. The first one we ever share is in Chapter 9 of Mamma's Boarding House, "Pioneer Day". After taking us through the morning set up, the available cast & family members, and giving us a front row seat to the town parade, John plops us at the family picnic.
Jason and Lulu helped unpack the baskets of food. Large skillets filled with fried chicken were set at each end of the table. The big Dutch oven was still so hot it had to be left on the ground. Mamma put three big bowls of potato salad on the table. Aunt Cathie had brought stuffed eggs. Jason and Lulu fixed plates of green onions, radishes and olives. Aunt Bertha opened jars of homemade pickles, relishes, jams and jellies. A huge smoked ham went in the center of the table. Plates of bread and butter sandwiches and Parker House rolls were within everybody's reach. There were four kinds of pies, a chocolate layer cake, watermelon, and a freezer of ice cream for dessert.
Isn't that deliciously inspiring? In my life, a picnic often means run to the nearest store to buy pre-made stuff. Or when my kids were little, peanut butter sandwiches and a juice box were the spread.
For John D. though, the food was an integral part of the experience. Years later in his The Great Brain Reforms book, he takes us to the most epic Fourth of July event. From stolen school bells, to parade floats, and the never to be forgotten tug of war. Yet, tucked in the celebratory details was a paragraph very reminiscent of the earlier one.
Every picnic table was piled high with about the same things we had on our table. There were bowls filled with fried chicken and potato salad. There were plates with green onions, radishes, pickles, olives, and hard-boiled eggs. There was a big smoked ham and bread-and-butter sandwiches. And, for dessert, we had an apple and berry pie, chocolate cake, ice cream, and watermelon.
Every time I read those descriptions, I find myself mentally looking for the picnic blanket/cloth that we inherited from my mother-in-law, while wondering if I have food I can whip up, especially watermelon. I love watermelon.
Today is Your Picnic Day
The great thing about holidays is they float. A year from now June 18, will be on another day. So, if you get this post and there isn't time to picnic today. Choose another day. In my area it's to soggy and rainy. Our summer days begin after July 4th. That is how our Camelot works. But don't worry, I won't skip. We will start later.
But if you have time today, grab a blanket, throw some food in a basket or cooler, or stop by a store to pick up supplies, and go have a picnic. We have all been through a lot these past 36 months. Celebrate your victory. Go have a picnic.
Happy International Picnic Day to You,
Photo attributions. Picnic 1900 - Recipe Reminiscing, Picnic Ideas - Victoriana Magazine, Picnic Party - Time News Group.