August 17th, 2019

The Picnic Basket

By G. E. Shuman

My wife’s birthday was/is this week. I’m not going to tell you how old, or how young she is, as I value my life far too much to do that. 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. 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 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 exactly what to do to impress my bride, on her birthday, once more.

It was suggested that I take Lorna 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 even define the word ‘romantic’, but I do love my wife.) So, for her birthday 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 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 the best part. We do actually have a picnic basket; a REAL, woven picnic basket. We also have an insulated, soft-sided, picnic/beachy thing, but that isn’t what I’m talking about. Our real basket is something we purchased years ago but had probably only used on one occasion before. (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 our cellar shelves, found it, brought it to the kitchen, and opened it to put in the ingredients for our picnic. It’s wicker, with leather straps and hinges, handles, and is lined on the inside with a gingham fabric. The ‘picnic making’ contents have been waiting, literally, for years, to be used. The old basket contained a knit tablecloth, plates, linen napkins, flatware, stemware, and soon, all the food and drink that I had bought for the occasion. 

So, we went to a beautiful picnic spot up in the Smuggler’s Notch area of Stowe. We opened the basket and made arrangements to eat our lunch on the picnic table that we chose. No one else was in the picnic area, 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, 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 these many years. The surroundings were good, the food was good, but our marriage, which began with two eighteen-year-old kids eloping, is more than good. It is amazing. 

So, after a long wait, summer seems to really be here. I hope you will go out and find a real picnic basket, just like ours, and make plans to use it. I never realized how important that old thing was.

Happy Birthday Lorna. I love you. George

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