Thursday, July 12, 2018

The history of 'the Picnic'. . . . . . . .

'Picnic'. A word shrouded in mystery.
'Picnic' has also changed in meaning over the years.

Originally it was a group feast to which each member brought along a share
 of the food and drink. . . . . and it's doubtful they were held outdoors. 

Although the association of outdoor eating and the picnic is not yet 200 years old, 
records of meals eaten outside go back centuries. In those days al fresco eating
 wasn't necessarily organized with pleasure in mind. The majority of cases were
 travelers wending their way over rough roads and dirt tracks, carrying provisions
 with them, and there was no choice but to eat out in all types of weather!

I've yet to get my picnic basket out of storage this Summer.
The intense heat, and many house and garden chores requiring attention before we
 left on the trip north, left no time for preparing a portable meal. Time for languishing on
 a grassy country spot in sensible temperatures just never arrived.

Looking through this little treasure of a book, once again I'm feeling up for planning
 a real picnic. . . . . . . if not this coming week, perhaps the next when hopefully it will
 cool off a bit.  Driving out into the countryside will be more enjoyable, spreading a 
tablecloth on the grass less buggy, and popping open a nice chilled rosé while nibbling 
tasty morsels, a Summertime adventure.

Are you planning to picnic this Summer?
Do you have a special place you return to. . . . . . . . or just drive
 through the countryside until you find 'the perfect spot?'

Of course one can also plan a kind of makeshift 'picnic' at home if traveling is not possible.
We often eat al fresco no matter the weather by sitting in the gazebo in the back garden!
There are no sweeping vistas, rippling streams, ponds, lakes or rivers. . . . . . 
. . . . . just bird baths, and a little tinkling fountain. 
Massive old trees overhead, with patches of blue sky just visible here and there, 
offer cooling shade.
The overhead fan turns silently, stirring the humid southern air.
Now and then a breeze sweeps through and rustles the tablecloth, lifts a napkin. 
 The birds sing loudly, take a bath then preen on a branch.

Yes, come to think of it, perhaps the home picnic is one of the most enjoyable.
This weekend will be very hot, I think I'll get the basket out and pack a picnic
to enjoy right here.


  1. Your new header is absolutely wonderful. And how I do love a picnic or just taking my tea outdoors. Just yesterday I met 5 other women friends for a salad picnic at the park. It was so special. Your picnic basket and pictures are so lovely and even included a little sweet teapot. You knew I would notice that! My favorite place to picnic is on a little island just outside of Portland at a historic apple orchard. I especially love going when the trees are in bloom or when the apples are heavy on the branches.

  2. Very interesting story about the 'picnic' you have shared with us. I love picnics and your basket is lovely, along with the dishes. I have one very similar only rectangular.
    When my girls were young we used to go often at the beautiful river bunk about half hour from our home. I loved that plan and the fun food I prepared. We also reproduced the plan with our two granddaughters.
    I guess weather plays a very important role for sure.
    Happy picnics to you.

  3. Picnics were (and mostly still are) the most common form of meal for people working the land, for centuries, as they would not waste the time to go back to their dwellings but stay out on the fields all day.
    We have a family picnic by the lake planned for tomorrow - should be fun, I just hope we'll find a shady spot!

  4. Lovely images; the book looks interesting. It's gotten up to 120 this week so no outdoor activities will be happening around here for a while.

  5. Love that picnic basket! We tend to picnic on the grounds of the Biltmore Estate. We find a spot by the pond with a view of the back of the Biltmore House.

  6. You write so eloquently, Mary! Everything sounds enticing and lovely. You have a gem of a picnic basket as well. Al and I try to have our meals outdoors here at the lake. Its just so calm and peaceful, much like your gazebo must be. If its raining or buggy, we move to the screened in guest house with a gorgeous view of the lake. A few trays and a carafe of wine and we are happy!

    When my children were young, a group of women neighbors and I, their kiddos and mine, would meet at a park which had picnic tables under huge old trees. We would take turns making a lunch to share, and simple fare for the little ones, who sat on blankets on the grass. It was always so fun. I will always remember those days.

    Thank you for making me remember!

    Hope you had a wonderful time in Canada!


    1. You dear Jane, the most prolific writer, and a published one at that, are most generous to comment on my words, thank you dear. Loved your story of long ago picnics with girlfriends and the children. I think these days, you like me, are enjoying the memories we have, and which we made, in those special times when we were young mothers!

      How are you doing - much better I hope. Love to you and Alan from us both.
      Mary XX

  7. What gorgeous photo, it makes me want to sit under a shady tree listening to the birds while slowly drinking wine and nibbling on the picnic! x

  8. Your basket and the china therein is just wonderful! We love picnics. We do have favorite spots but the best is just finding a new spot each time. Sometimes the spot is not so good and sometimes we have lucked into wonderful isolated spots that are very memorable. To us, the eating part of the picnic is not the big deal.....the location is.

  9. I love that and the photos, naturally. :)


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