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Frankly Phyllis

Frankly....Picnics Taste Good and Refresh!

There's none so rare as a day in June...along with picnics that come none too soon! If you want to lose yourself to sweet abandon, feel carefree for hours on end, relax into something you cannot buy and would not trade, discover what brings out the child in you from before the adult was made...then, let's plan a picnic!

Springtime Sundays in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania beckoned our family to the hills with our picnic basket to search the trails for a clearing. My mom and dad ceremoniously spread the checkered tablecloth on the ground. We'd play a few games of tag or catch and then have a devotion, about a verse like Psalm 34:8 -- "Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him." My dad would guide us through different ways to "taste" how the Lord is good, through food and being grateful for our surroundings. Then we'd open the basket! Each container held a "taste" surprise, from potato salad to deviled eggs to stuffed celery sticks and pasties (small meat pies) or ham and cheese slices with lettuce and pickles on fresh buns, and always, my mom's white cake with her fabulous chocolate frosting and homemade lemonade on ice with stemmed mint leaves for stirring!

The mood was carefree as we enjoyed one another in a setting without tables, chairs and walls. My dad read stories like The Wind in the Willows, an early 1900's English children's novel which captured our imagination sitting out in the woods. Author Kenneth Grahame's picnic scene inspires one to arrange picnics more often than once in a while. He describes unpacking the basket:

The Mole begged as a favor to be allowed to unpack it all by himself; and the Rat was very pleased to indulge him, and to sprawl at full length on the grass and rest, while his excited friend shook out the tablecloth and spread it, took out all the mysterious packets one by one and arranged their contents in due order, still gasping, "Oh my! Oh my!" at each fresh revelation!

Picnics are as charming and winsome a getaway as you'll find on the planet, no matter whether they're in the woods, the park or under the birch tree, as my two youngest girls used to do daily in the front yard. Types vary from on the beach, just the two of you, to a family reunion. I've recently collected picnic memories offered with a smile, and sometimes moist eyes, as treasured moments are recalled. A picnic is, as the definition says, "A pleasure outing at which a meal is eaten outdoors." Your memories include:

  • "We took a picnic on the Mississippi River cruise ship, The Admiral, every spring for my dance recital, right on the boat, while it was moving down the river! We cruised to the Jefferson Barracks Bridge and came back to downtown St. Louis, MO."

  • "When I was a little girl I'd cut the crusts off the bread, spread it with butter and sprinkle it with sugar. Then I'd take my sugar sandwich out in the back yard and look up at the clouds for what seemed like hours! That was my private picnic!"

  • "Our family had a wicker basket that opened on both sides at the top. There was a cloth inside for spreading out all the food, including fried chicken, deviled eggs, rose shaped radishes and drinks."

  • "Grandmother took us to the park. We'd take food out of her basket and then play on the swings while she sat in the shade."

  • "We lived on property where there'd been a creamery in Idaho. Our home was on the corner of the acreage away from the road. There were three rock walls left by the creamery, a distance from the house. In the spring the weeds and grass would come up and we'd take a picnic and sit on the rocks and pretend we were in Ireland, because I always thought I was supposed to be born there! For several hours I was there."

  • "All I remember about picnics is the grownups saying, 'Watch your soda cans for ants!'"

  • "My dad always took a nap after our picnic, while mother watched us play!"

  • "My husband gave me a beautiful English picnic basket one Christmas. I couldn't wait to use it. I kept asking, 'How about this Saturday?' He never had time, so one weekend I filled the basket and surprised him at his office with an offer to duck over to the city park for a little picnic. He declined. That was 15 years ago and we've never used the basket. I somehow couldn't because in my mind it was to celebrate family. I did think of other ways to do that, so my husband could join us! My advice is, if you have a picnic basket, use it with somebody. A picnic basket is too good a thing to waste!"

  • Life can be a sort of picnic, at least the part about preparing something and then enjoying it with surprise and leisure afterwards. You open a container and later take time to "taste" and see what's inside. Oh...that...I remember that. I made that plan years ago and it's playing out now! How good of God to follow through! But I highly recommend a "Let's eat out...picnic!" Check out the picnic tips I've offered. Frankly, as the Bible reminds, "Times of refreshing come from the Lord!" and the peaceful picnic gives you a piece of that!

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