How about the gorgeous fall weather we’re having! Sunny and in the mid-70s along with all the brilliant autumn colors. The oranges, golds, reds, and browns combined with the greens make for the perfect palette to get outside and enjoy it while we can. Daylight Savings will rob us of our evening hour of sunlight on November 1st. We have less than two weeks to revel in the waning afternoon sunshine.
The last seven months have been interesting for all of us, to say the least, but as we head towards winter I’m hearing angst from even my cheeriest of customers.
What are we going to do when winter comes?
Well, winter isn’t here yet and like they say in the 70’s sitcom, a Merle Haggard tune and the sobriety manta—one day at a time—and today, that means picnic time. You know what’s great about fall picnics besides colorful scenery and weather that won’t turn your potato salad into a pathogenic soup? No bugs. The cool nights and a few frosts have eased up on the creepy crawlies to the point where sitting in the grass on a blanket isn’t a battle against the flies and ants. Sure, an occasional cricket may visit, but no more swatting at yellow jackets and worrying if there is an Epi Pen in the glove compartment.
The itch to get outside and go somewhere is worse than bad case of poison ivy. We’re so desperate for normalcy that we are literally eating in the streets. I know restaurants are having a tough time right now, but there’s nothing wrong about ordering take-out and going into the Great Outdoors to dine. We miss having meals with our friends, dipping our bread in the communal bowl of olive oil, sharing a table full of mezze, and forget having a piece of birthday cake after someone has blown out the candles.
But it’s ok to make a few adjustments that will still keep you in line with CDC recommendations. Picnics with friends outdoors are a wonderful way to fill your social needs tank, only your dining companions will have to have their own picnic blanket six feet away. Even better than sitting on the ground, most standard picnic tables found at parks are eight feet long—two whole feet longer than guidelines suggest!
For everyone shopping at the farmers market, right now there is an amazing assortment of foods perfect for picnicking. There are the standards– breads, cheeses, fruits, salamis, and pastries. Want something sweet that is easy to carry in a basket or backpack, try a chocolate bar, although an apple would be a healthier choice. Ciders are showing up with the advent of fall. Fill a thermos with a hot mulled cider for chillier weather. And speaking of thermoses…soups can make a quick and simple socially distanced picnic in no time. I may live alone, but I know I have enough single serving insulated containers that I’ve accrued over the years to have a party for six. While re-usable containers are more environmentally correct, at this time it’s more sanitary to use disposable and pop them in the trash when done. The plus side—no dishes to clean up.
While we want our dining experiences to be over the top, sumptuous and memorable, a simple picnic in a local green space or taking a drive to a state or national park can feed the soul as much as our tummies. There are numerous places within an hour of our homes that we might not even consider had the pandemic not happened. With Halloween just around the corner, try taking a walk and having a picnic in a cemetery. Sounds morbid, right? You’d be surprised at how beautiful many historic cemeteries are. Earlier this summer I met a friend at Gettysburg where we not only had a quiet place for a delightful visit, there were lovely carved granite benches under a flowering ornamental tree with not a living soul in sight except us. And it wasn’t even Halloween!
Picnics can be over the top if you put them in a backpack and head up a trail. Throughout the region there are many great hikes with expansive overlooks from mountain top rock outcrops. Once when I was trying to find my way home from market after an accident turned I-70 into a parking lot I stumbled upon Lake Linganore where I stopped and had my own little picnic with goodies from market at a lakeside picnic table. I wish I would have noted the GPS coordinates as it was a amazing spot.
We have been so caught up in the frustrations of what we can’t do that we don’t often consider what we can do and right now is the time when we are still able to have a picnic.