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!

Tell Me a Story about … Glasses!

When my husband and I got married, we had so much extended family that between our shower and wedding gifts, we lacked … well, nothing. Towers of gifts included bedding, artwork, photo albums, and lots of kitchen stuff. Pots and pans, small appliances, cutlery,Glasses A dishes, mugs, and glasses.

In my previous blog post, I mentioned using my paycheck at Murphy’s Mart, a local department store, to put things I thought we’d need on layaway and pay them off. One item I recall was a set of chocolate brown, plastic cups so we’d have something to offer water or iced tea to visitors. Our wedding gifts included several sets of glasses, including floral squat ones as shown in the photo.

But those glasses aren’t the glasses I thought of for this post.

At an early age, I developed a bad poison ivy rash over 90% of my body. This caused some vision disturbances which led to a prescription for glasses in elementary school. I Glasses Bwore them as you’d expect a shy girl in the 1960s to do – not much at all. Through the rest of school, I dealt with the visual issues, but not until I was married and trying to work two jobs at once did I begin having serious problems.

After a few years, I began wearing glasses full-time. The frames for these glasses went from plastic to metal and back to plastic. The photo shows many frames available in the ‘70s. Today, I rely on my glasses more and more to see things near and far.

But those glasses aren’t the glasses I thought of for this post.

This morning, with the current ban on gatherings involving people outside our families, I decided to start a new Bible study as my trade-off for church. I’d heard of a company offering a series of Bible studies with videos for free plus a slight charge for the ebook study guides. I figured that would fit my needs well.

Since my word-of-the-year for 2020 is FOCUSED, the Bible study 20/20, by Christine Caine 005814000(of Women of Faith), jumped out at me. I paid for the ebook, installed their app on my tablet, and logged in to watch the first video portion. Besides Christine’s delightful Australian accent, the topic and accompanying Bible story brought joy as I realized what a perfect study I’d been led to.

As the title 20/20 suggests, it involves sight. Christine spoke of focusing (remember my word-of-the-year?) on the people right in front of us. She brought up the questions of who we see and who sees us. She included a statistic on the popularity of taking selfies to the tune of one million per day! And her point? How can we see others when we’re looking at ourselves so much?

She also spoke of how we would see if we looked through our regular glasses, a pair with scratched lenses, a pair without lenses, and a pair with the wrong prescription. I must admit to losing track of what she said we’d see or wouldn’t see because a memory of long ago came to mind.

And that’s the glasses I thought of for this post!

While I was a senior in high school, we experienced an extra heavy snowfall. To go to church one day, our dad cleared some of the snow, but much was still around the car doors. My brother opened the back door to get in, and I opened the front door. I reached out and grabbed the door frame between the two doors for balance to cross the snow by my door … just as my brother slammed his car door.

Glasses CLet’s leave the rest of that part of the story for another time. Today’s memory came from what happened later (no church for us). After icing my hand, I went to my bedroom and grabbed a journal I’d started a couple days before. I’d never kept a diary, but being a writer, it was bound to happen that I’d fall in love with journaling sometime.

I remember being thankful the hand slammed in the door was my left hand, and I wrote right-handed. One of the first lines I wrote that day said something like this: “Once again, I don my ‘glasses.’” I’d started calling my journaling “glasses,” although I don’t recall why.

Years later, as I reread those journals, I saw the name for what it was – a young girl-turning-woman’s way of finding herself and discovering her God. I’d just become a Christian less than a year before, though I’d gone to church all my life. I’ve journaled for the past 40+ years, seeing myself grow and stagnate, become and change through the lens of those journaling “glasses.” I’ve also learned to see God and what I’ve been missing in His work for me.

Brandon Heath says it best in his song, “Give Me Your Eyes.” Listen to this link and find your “glasses” so you can see what you’ve been missing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5AkNqLuVgY

 

Did you wear glasses as a child? Do you remember a special set of glasses your family used for water or iced tea? Did you have a set for family and a set for company? Share your story of whichever glasses you feel led to write about. Blessings!