Wednesday, February 10, 2016

February 10, 2016 - My Favorite Picnic

It appears no one has gone for a picnic lately at this table.  It sits all alone, undisturbed, along the frozen river.  No children are playing with a frisbee nearby.  No dogs are merrily romping around.  There are no charcoal grills set up, no scent of food cooking.  There are no blankets set down in the grass nearby, and no one is nodding off in a lounge chair.  The bowls of snacks and coolers filled with fizzy drinks are missing.

This is a picnic table covered with snow along a frozen river.  There are no waves lapping on the shore, no one is slowly canoeing by, and the scent of greenery is absent.  The buzzing insects are (thankfully) nowhere to be found.  And the silence is deafening.  No children.  No games being played or athletes competing.  This is a picnic table waiting for the “right” picnickers, and sadly none have come to enjoy themselves.

In need of a picnic.

Shall I tell you of my favorite picnic?  It took place many, many years ago and now exists only in my memory, the other participants having long since died.  It was a very cold January day.  The snow was much deeper--much, much deeper!--than you see in the photo.  We packed the car up with snacks and food and hot tea in thermoses, and we set off for a remote place, looking for our favorite picnic table.

We found it covered with snow, and we dug it out and cleared it off.  Then we dug out the stone fire pit nearby.  We could have scouted for small dead standing trees for wood, but they would have taken too much time to find, saw, and chop, and so we brought in our own wood.  It was my job, as always, to start the fire, which is not easy to do in the winter.  It took some doing, but I got a fine blaze going after a while.

A frisbee was produced by someone, and it was hilarious to try to run through the snow to catch it.  I fell flat on my face several times.  But anytime we got too cold, we would stop by and warm ourselves at the fire.  I would add wood to it often to make sure that we kept a good blaze going.

The funniest part might have been when someone decided to try to dance in the snow.  Others joined, and soon we all looked ridiculous trying to do our “moves” in the deep drifts.  Then it was on to building snowmen, and of course, someone had to build an alien-looking thing that might have come straight from a 1960’s sci-fi novel.  We laughed and laughed.

Then we gathered around the fire and roasted weenies on sticks.  We dipped them in catsup that we had brought and ate them hot off the sticks.  Then we roasted far too many marshmallows and ate them, too.  We washed it all down with hot tea from the thermoses.  We sat around and talked for a while, and then we sort of just stared at the fire and spoke every so often.

Eventually, a ranger came upon our camp to make sure everything was alright.  We assured him it was, and he left after he decided the fire posed absolutely no danger.  He smiled all along.  I think he was happy to see people enjoying themselves in the snow, spending many days himself outdoors in the winter.

I was happy, too.  It was a great day.  I didn’t know how great the day was at the time, and it would take many, many years for me to realize what a gem of a day it was.  Now it lives only in my memory--happy people sitting around a raging fire in the dead of winter.  But I still remember as if it were yesterday.

This picnic table needs a picnic.  It needs one sooner rather than later.  It needs laughter around a fire in the snow, the memories stored forever--or as long as someone lives anyhow--in the minds of those who danced around the fire.

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