The Last Windrow: Take time to enjoy a picnic
Ahhh ... what to do at this mid-point of July? The days are getting shorter. The Fourth of July fireworks are history. Some of the summer festivals have wrapped it up for another year and walks in the woods are accompanied by 10 million mosquitoe...
Ahhh ... what to do at this mid-point of July?
The days are getting shorter. The Fourth of July fireworks are history. Some of the summer festivals have wrapped it up for another year and walks in the woods are accompanied by 10 million mosquitoes and, in this country, an equal amount of deer flies.
Life gets less complicated at the midpoint of summer. Baseball and soccer camps are about over and I see ads on television hinting at "back-to-school." I hated to see those appear when I was still attending schools of higher learning. It meant there was a deadline to my fun.
But, there is one thing that happens during this summer halftime - picnics. This is the time of year that people start digging out those dust-covered picnic baskets at the back of the basement, cleaning the utensils and stuffing the wicker basket with a fresh supply of napkins, and people dream of dining on a beautiful, breezy day by the lake or in a park or someplace other than the kitchen table.
We never had many official picnics on our farm family. It was thought that eating off a dining room table free from bugs was the ultimate in eating pleasure. We were not a camping out family and neither were our neighbors.
We spent 90 percent of our time outdoors working and it was a pleasure just to get out of the blistering sun and raw wind to eat our meals in the peace and tranquility that a farm kitchen provided.
But, we did have picnics of a sort. While we were on the far end of the property doing fieldwork, we could count on someone coming out in a car or by foot carrying a basket full of sandwiches, maybe potato salad, maybe a piece of pie and a quart fruit jar full of sweetened coffee or a jar of iced tea wrapped in a dish towel to keep it cool.
The best of these "picnics" came at 3 o'clock in the afternoon when your energy level was really starting to lag.
We would sit atop that tractor seat and devour those delicious treats while visiting with our benefactor about the condition of the soil, the wildlife we had chased up during our rounds or maybe where the last hail storm had hit. It was a pleasant interlude and it seemed everything tasted better out in that farm fresh air.
Family reunions saw the picnic baskets pulled out again as each family stuffed them full and packed them in the car trunk along with freshly made baked beans, fried chicken, salads of every sort and homemade pie. The drive was usually to a city park that had a swimming pool to keep the kids busy while the older folks sat at the wooden benches visiting.
Those picnics would rival any eating event anywhere. All scratch baking and all made from farm fresh produce.
There was always some risk eating at outdoor picnics. Ants would scurry across the red and white checkered tablecloths, a errant squirrel might sneak up a table leg and take a look at the pecan pie, a yellow jacket bee might find a tender spot on a kid's arm, but dining on this banquet far outweighed the pain one might endure.
As we move toward the dog days of summer, August, parks and wayside rests will see people climbing out of their vehicles carrying a picnic basket or two. It is the time of year when we start to relax and actually begin to enjoy real summer.
We already heard the weather word "polar vortex" just last week, which is rather ominous to hear at this point of time, but we know what is coming in a few months. We've been there before.
There won't be many picnics when snow covers the park benches. Enjoy your picnics while you may!
See you next time. Okay?