The Suitcase Lady


July 29, 2009, 2:20 am

The dictionary defines picnic as “an outing or occasion that involves taking a packed meal to be eaten outdoors.”

I love eating alfresco, perhaps because so few picnics are possible in my frigid state of Wisconsin. Picnics vary in personality. Here are a few types – please feel free to comment on your favorites.

  • The Spontaneous Picnic – When we are traveling, a perfect picnic spot often presents itself. Lacking a kitchen, we go to a grocery store for cheese, crackers, fruit and cold drinks. Napkins are the only other necessity… instant picnic.
  • The Basic Picnic – Sunday summer nights were always picnic nights when our kids were growing up. We headed to a scenic local park, put down a sheet on our “picnic hill” and ate the following: tuna sandwiches on good rolls, finger fruits or vegetables and chips. Dessert of ice cream cones came later at the local custard stand. This basic picnic is fun, easy and doesn’t entail excessive equipment or dishes to wash.
  • The Elegant Picnic – I’m still aspiring to have one or two of these picnics in my lifetime. They occur before the Ravinia type outdoor concerts or Santa Fe Opera.  People who own silver candelabras, Belgian lace tablecloths, bone china and sterling ice buckets bring said items to the concert lawn or parking lots. The food matches the elegance of the dinnerware – poached salmon, artichokes, brie, etc.
  • The Communal Picnic – We’ve all experienced these large picnics with family, work or volunteer groups. They are characterized by two things; an over abundance of food and an eclectic array of offerings. Everyone brings “a dish to pass”. The success of this type of picnic usually rests on the shoulders of one woman. She is the one who remembers the serving spoons, large knives, spare utensils and paper products, bug spray and bandages. She is also the one who sees that all the serving dishes, platters and lids get returned (washed) to their rightful owners. And, most noble of all, she is the one who ends up with a refrigerator stuffed with weird food when the other picnickers blithely say, “Oh, you can keep the leftovers.”

5 Comments for this entry

  • Alan

    I love all four types. Regarding the elegant picnic, we tried one of these last Saturday for Madison Opera’s annual concert in the park. I even brought roses from our garden and arranged them in a vase, as well as a candle to light after the sun went down.

  • Ann Piehl

    Sunday we met our daughter at Ravinia for a picnic and concert. We didn’t quite match the candelabra people, but we did OK. Lots of good food and a great concert.


    I remember as a kid going on picnics with family going around wisc driving to veg. stands picking up fruits and little yellow tomatos they were the best around and getting green tomatos to fry when we got home yum yum yum the good old days

  • Flora

    Picnic in the mountains of Costa Rica. Father, mother, my brother and myself. One large basket with (some of the stuff) hard boiled eggs, tortillas, ground black beans, plantain chips, water ( we NEVER DRANK SOFT DRINKS) Corn little donut type baked that we picked in a town on our way, and fruit (papaya, mango). My dad took a nap under a large tree while we explored the area.

  • Barb Ward

    While I love the family and friend picnics, there is one more high on my list, a ‘Take-me-away’ mini picnic for one. A small carafe of your favorite wine, wine glass (no plastic!), crunchy crust fresh bread , a blanket, book and at least one hour of time at a park, beach or your favorite place. Ahhhhh, lovely.