Saturday, July 21, 2012

National Picnic Month

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By Diane Forrest

When I was younger I used to love to read the Nancy Drew books.  Not only were they full of mystery and intrigue, but Carolyn Keene, the author, would write the most marvelous descriptions of food I ever read.  She would describe a picnic basket that Nancy's housekeeper, Hannah Gruen, would pack for her, including fried chicken, potato salad, chocolate layer cake with thick icing, and a thermos of ice cold lemonade that would just make my mouth water.  I guess I always thought that having a delicious picnic would help me solve a mystery or crime.

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As I got older, I used to dream of having a wonderfully romantic picnic beside a stream, sitting on a red checkered blanket under an old oak tree, with my guy laying his head on my lap as I read romantic poetry to him until he drifted off to sleep.  Sadly, I never solved a crime, or had that romantic lunch by the stream, but there are many other types of picnics you can experience.

A picnic can be defined simply as a pleasure excursion at which a meal is eaten outdoors, ideally taking place in a beautiful landscape. Picnics are often family-oriented but can also be an intimate occasion between two people, or a large get-together, company picnics and church picnics. On romantic and family picnics a picnic basket and a blanket are usually brought along. Outdoor games or some other form of entertainment are common at large picnics. Formerly, picnic meant a potluck, an entertainment at which each person contributed some dish to a common table for all to share.

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Picnics are extremely popular all throughout the spring summer and fall but during the month of July you see picnics everywhere and I do mean everywhere! One of the reasons why picnics are so popular in July is because a large number of families take their vacations in July and spend much of their time outdoors enjoying the warm weather and having picnics out of a basket or having outside picnics while grilling BBQ on the grill.

Every summer when I was growing up, our usual family vacation consisted of traveling across the state of Mississippi to visit my grandparents.  My mother would pack a ice chest with some sandwiches and cold drinks and along the way we would stop at a roadside park and have our lunch.  I don’t know what it is that makes pulling out a sandwich and eating it on the side of the road that makes it tastes so much better, but those were the best bologna sandwiches ever.
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July is National Picnic Month, you still have plenty of time to pack a sandwich in a bag and sit on a park bench, or plan a romantic outing with a picnic basket filled with wine, fruit and cheese, or even a family day out with some fishing poles, a grill and some hot dogs.  It doesnt matter what you have, or where you go, the important thing is the memories you make that will last a lifetime.

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