I used to have a gorgeous picnic basket. Made of beautifully woven reeds, with a double hinged lid, it had a removable wooden stilted platform inside so that you could keep your pie (of course) from being crushed by all the other food. It was complete with special slots to hold one’s cutlery.
I imagined many a romantic outing in gorgeous parks, taking in the view and sitting upon a pretty red and white checked blanket that I didn’t actually own. And the culinary delights, which I wouldn’t be able to cook, that would come out of that basket would be finished off by a bottle of wine, even though I don’t drink alcohol. And what the hell, why not, I’d be wearing something Victorian, with a gorgeous hat, which of course is not part of my wardrobe.
As you can imagine, I never used that basket. Not even once. And it didn’t make my relocation from the East coast to the West. It just took up too much space. I had to leave a lot behind.
No, my picnics usually consist of a Subway sandwich consumed while sitting alone on some rock or other. And that’s a pity, because food always tastes so much better outdoors. It makes me wish I were the pie baking sort.
In light of this pandemic, I think picnics should come back into fashion. None of us can afford much these days, and a lot is closed. But the weather is warming up and flowers are blooming, and all of that is free. There’s nothing to prevent us from lovingly preparing a meal that we’d be eating anyway, and sitting in our back yard or on our patio or even on the living room floor, and taking in the view of our partners in lockdown.
Yeah, it’s not a Victorian picnic complete with footmen to pour the wine, but it’ll do.
Since I’m not a kid or a Christian, Easter tends to go by without my taking too much notice these days. Like Halloween, it’s kind of a non-holiday holiday for me. But when I was little, I absolutely loved coloring eggs. (Come to think of it, I’d probably still find that fun. Therapeutic, even. )
My mother would put fuzzy pussy willow sprigs in a vase, and we’d glue pastel ribbons onto the eggs and then hang the eggs from the sprigs, so it would sort of be like a spring Christmas tree, with just as many Pagan connotations. I wish we had taken pictures, but I don’t think there is one anywhere in my boxes of photos. It would have been in black and white anyway, so it would have lost much of its charm. I’ll just have to rely on my memories, as long as they last.
I have another amazing memory that always makes me smile at this time of year. One Easter morning I woke up and there was an Easter basket beside my bed. It was empty, except for a note. It was a little poem, along the lines of “roses are red, violets are blue…” and it gave me a clue as to where to go next. At that location, there was a chocolate egg or something, and another note with another clue sending me off on another tangent.
It was all really exciting. It led me throughout the house and yard, and took me ages to work out. At the end my basket was full of peeps and candy. But the best part about it was that my sister Andrea had done this for me. I recognized her handwriting.
It was clear that she put a great deal of effort into this. She’s 9 years older than me, so she must have been about 16 at the time. That made me feel really, really special. It’s that warm feeling that I remember most whenever I think about that day.
The funny thing about it is that Andrea doesn’t remember it at all. All that work, and all the joy it gave me, and it seems not to have remained in her memory banks. That always surprises me. And it kind of makes me sad, because I’d love to thank her, but when I’ve attempted to do so, I think it stressed her out that the memory is lost.
So these days I just smile to myself, and think, “Violets are blue, red is a rose, go to the place where we dry the clothes.”