Tell Me a Story about … a Picnic!

Let’s make a movie in our minds! It’s the early 1970s. Imagine the excitement of a family from southern Pennsylvania packing to go on a vacation to their favorite spot … a cabin in the northern mountains of their state. They load the station wagon with sleeping bags, stuffed suitcases, filled coolers, sleepy children, and slobbering dogs. And they’re off!

Along the Susquehanna River, they meet a group of family members also going to this vacation spot and make a convoy of sorts. They head up Route 15, drive through Williamsport (home of the Little League Baseball Museum today, but not then), and take Picnic Aanother highway.

Finally, they turn onto the forested Route 287. Watching closely for white-tailed deer crossing the roads, they navigate curves, the three-mile hill, and the two-mile hill. Up ahead, they see the sign for the town of Morris, home of the Annual Morris Rattlesnake Round-Up. (Shiver!!) Time to break for lunch!

Now, let’s pause the movie and set the scene for the next part. Just outside of town, a pine-covered picnic glade sits off the road on the right, a perfect place to let dogs out to do their business, let restless children out to run, and let parents and grandparents have a break from the constant refrain of “Are we there yet?”Picnic B

Break out grandmother’s wicker picnic basket and unload the red and white checkered tablecloth, the sectioned plastic plates, and the gem-colored metallic tumblers. Haul out the Styrofoam and Coleman coolers full of sandwich materials, condiments (“Did you remember the catsup this time?”), potato and macaroni salads, chips, pretzels, and of course, home-baked cookies.

Wait! Don’t forget Nanny’s iced tea, the kind with the little bits of lemonade pulp! One gulp and the weariness of the trip washes away.

Everyone loads up their plates, and some sit at the picnic tables, others on green and white webbed lawn chairs. Kids gobble their food as quickly as possible to go play by the creek.

Picnic DAh, the creek … the pièce de résistance! This part of the scene delights kids and adults alike. The typical rocky bed, bubbling clear waters, and slippery mudpuppies provides entertainment for the kiddos. Their elders enjoy relaxing by its edge, entranced as usual by the rust-colored rocks sparkling in the sunlight, looking to be dusted with gold specks. The respite refreshes the vacationers and helps them get back on the road ready to finish the last leg of the journey.

What makes those creek-side picnics such a poignant part of my memories? As though taking part in this movie, I see the bright red of my grandmother’s Comet along the road and the ruby, sapphire, and emerald tumblers filled with cold drinks. I hear the children laughing and the water gurgling. I feel the give of the webbed mesh on the lawn chairs or the sturdiness of the picnic bench. I smell the pine needles covering the ground in a blanket of russet and green and the yellow mustard as it squirts from the bottle onto a ham sandwich. And oh, yes, I taste the iced tea with lemon, the bits of pulp getting caught in my teeth.

All those senses fill my mind … and my heart. But the thing that brings the memory of Picnic Cthese picnics into a reality is the rusty creek and the love of family. The unusual colors of the creek made it a favored spot for the yearly picnic on our trip to Potter County. And the family members who made up the entourage made the picnics a time of joy, a time to be remembered with love.

Today, the rusty creek is no longer rust-colored for some reason. The picnic glade is no longer there. But whenever we have the chance to head up Route 287 on our way to the cabin, I wait for the sign for Morris. I peer out the window of the car to see if the creek’s coloring came back. I check once again to see if the picnic area was reinstated. And even though those things are gone forever, if we slow the car and wind the windows down, I can almost hear someone ask, “You didn’t forget the iced tea, did you?”

 

What picnic places fill the senses of your memories? Or maybe it’s the special foods … the dishware … the tablecloth. Then again, maybe it’s just the love. Please share your picnic memories with us. Blessings!

2 thoughts on “Tell Me a Story about … a Picnic!

  1. Hi Cathy, Thanks for taking us along on your picnic memory. I felt as if I was there, the way you described it! I was thinking back to my picnic memories and one in particular kept coming to mind. I believe it was the summer of 1999. I’d bought a used car with my tax return money. It was the first car I’d had in 4 years. We used the bus to get around before that, to work — the store- or we walked. One of the first things I wanted to do with that car was take my kids to Tower Hill, which was at Lake Michigan, about 50 miles from where we used to live. I hadn’t been there in years and wanted the boys to see it and get to watch the sun set on the water. So I bought a styrofoam cooler and a bag of ice. Packed it with lunch meat, cheese, condiments, onion dip and cans of pop. Also packed bread, chips and cookies. Brought extra clothes, towels, pails and shovels, sunglasses, and of course a frisbee! We hopped in the car and took off. It was about an hour’s drive but finally there we were, with the sparkling blue lake on one side and the big sand hill on the other (thus the name Tower Hill). Dragging all our stuff we found a good spot to lay out a blanket which would be home base for the next several hours. We played in the water, on the sand, enjoyed the sun and watched the seagulls. I made us all some sandwiches and we ate them along with the chips & dip and cookies. We played some more and when the sun began to set, the crowd began thinning out. We stayed until the sun seemed to drop into the lake. My grandma used to call it putting the sun to bed. The hot summer day had turned chilly. It was time to go. It was dark when we got home and we were all tired from the long but wonderful day. I guess that is more about a day at the beach than a picnic but it was a picnic too, just on the beach! It stands out in my memory so vividly because it was the first time in years I’d been able to give my kids a day like that. Not having a car kept us pretty much at home most of the time, so it was a real treat and a blessing!

    Thanks for sharing your picnic memory and for bring back to my mind such a happy memory too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a fun day, Julie! I hope your boys remember it as fondly as you do. Besides the picnics I described in the post, my favorites were the ones like you had … a whole day of fun. My mom would take my brothers and me to a local state park to swim. We’d take lunch, a portable radio, a deck of cards, books, and swimwear … oh, and yes, a frisbee! We also always had badminton racquets and birdies always with us, our favorite outside game to play. My brothers and I would splash around and doggie-paddle. Then, they’d continue playing, and Mom and I would lay in the sun, read, and listen to Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story.” After lunch, we’d play a game of 500 Rummy … so we wouldn’t get cramps by going in the water right after eating (does every mom do that … needlessly? LOL!). We’d spend the whole morning and afternoon and go home in time to get supper ready for Dad’s arrival from work. Ah, fun times, those were.

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