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December 2nd, 2016

The Picnic Basket

By G. E. Shuman
Today, (the day of this writing), is my wife’s birthday. I’m not going to tell you how old, or how young she is today, as I value my life far too much to do that. I will say that there is a 2, and a 6 in the number representing her age. I’ll let you decide which numeral comes first. Anyway, let it also be known that I did marry an older woman. Truthfully, she really is older than me…three weeks older, to be exact. Hey, three weeks is a significant amount of time, especially the three weeks when she has already had her birthday, and I have not. Don’t think it matters? Try holding your breath for three weeks. Okay, I have belabored that point quite enough.

Birthdays are difficult things to celebrate, it seems, when you are our age. At least, for me, every year brings the challenge of finding the right gift for my dear wife, on her day. You can only do flowers, candy, and more flowers and more candy just so many times, I have learned. And, since Lorna buys her own jewelry, clothes, and has her nails done every two weeks, (a gift that keeps on taking, and one that I started years ago), I have a lot of trouble figuring out, on her birthday and on Christmas, exactly what to do to impress my bride, once more.

A few days ago it was suggested that I take my wife on a romantic, private picnic on her special day, and, being the truly romantic guy that I am, I thought that was a good idea. (Actually, I probably can’t accurately define the word ‘romantic’, but I do love my wife.) So, last evening I went to the supermarket and bought all kinds of things that I thought would make our picnic together a memorable time. I purchased special wheat loaves, and cheese, and meat for the sandwiches, and potato salad, and fruit, and crackers, and more cheese, and wine, and other things, all to put into our picnic basket for the occasion. Hey, maybe I really AM a romantic guy. Who would’a thunk it?

Now, here’s where I want to tell you the best part. That is, yes, we do actually have a picnic basket; a REAL picnic basket. We also have an insulated, soft sided, picnic/beachy thing, but that isn’t what I’m talking about. The real picnic basket we have is something we purchased years ago, but have probably only used on one occasion before today. (Think of the basket on the rear of the bicycle Miss Gulch rode, in The Wizard of Oz, and you will know what our picnic basket looks like.)

I didn’t remember what a unique and quaint thing the basket was, until I went to the camping equipment area of our cellar shelves this morning, found it, brought it to the kitchen, and opened it to put in the ingredients for our picnic. I want you to know, the thing is an actual wicker basket, with leather straps and hinges, wicker handles, and is lined on the inside with a patchwork, I guess, gingham fabric. The ‘picnic making’ contents of the basket have been waiting, literally, for years, for the use that they got today. The old basket contained a knit table cloth, a gingham table setting, linen napkins, flatware, stemware, and soon, all the food and drink that I had bought for the occasion.

So, as I said, today, on either my wife’s 62nd, or 26th birthday, we went to a beautiful picnic spot up in the Smuggler’s Notch area of Stowe. (I will readily admit to living in a gorgeous part of the Northeast, and do suggest that you visit here, often.) We opened the basket, and made arrangements to eat our quaint lunch on the picnic table that we chose.

No one else was in the picnic area today, which was perfect. I couldn’t have planned it better. The sun was shining through the vibrant green trees, chipmunks were scampering past our table, (I’m not kidding, they really were.) birds were singing, and the little brook only yards away was beautifully babbling. Best of all, I got to share a leisurely, simple meal with the person I love more than anyone else in the world; the one who has stood by me in marriage for nearly 44 years. (Now I guess you know how old we are.) The surroundings were good, the food was good, but our marriage, which began with two 18-year-old kids eloping, is more than good. It is amazing

So, after a long wait, summer weather seems to finally be here. Everything is green, and alive. I hope you will go out into this beautiful world, soak up the sun, and share a simple picnic or two with the people you love. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Find a park bench, a recreation area, or just do it in your back yard. Firstly, I hope you will go out and find a real picnic basket, just like ours. Until today I didn’t realize how important that old thing was.

Happy Birthday Lorna. I love you. George

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