“Let’s have a picnic.” Yes! Gather the supplies and pack the food. The adventure really begins once we are all in the car. We must find the “perfect” picnic spot. At first, we pass places that are not shady enough, parks with too many people or for one reason or other they are “not quite right.” As time passes and the sun wanes, boredom sets in and hunger prevails, not-so-perfect picnic spots look so much better – even you might say, perfect.
My favorite book describing the hunt for a perfect picnic spot is “The Bears Picnic” by the Berenstain Brothers. Even though it has been a long long time since I have read it to a child, whenever I think about picnics, I think about the bears’ picnic. I enjoyed reading another take on this book at Write Run Repeat. The perfect spot, of course, is very close – no need to travel at all – a backyard picnic is a joyful idea.
In order to simplify the process of picnicking, I kept two baskets at the ready. One for the food filled with containers and another packed and ready with a service for eight. Our picnic baskets travelled many many miles – from backyard picnics to 5,000 mile journeys to national parks. Our handmade picnic basket, you might say, is now filled with memories. Is there a better gift for the newly married or a young family? Soon after my daughter graduated from the University of Iowa, I found a Hawkeye Basket. Go Hawkeyes – and best of all, she and her sweetie love picnics even in Brooklyn!
The Burlington Basket Company had been making baskets since 1880 until just a few years ago. A loss for all of us because their baskets are well-made and will last through generations if cared for properly. Another American basket company is the Redmon Company in Peru Indiana. Thankfully, Redmon still exists but they are no longer making baskets. The deep green Hawkeye basket is iconic, as is the red plaid by Redmon. But there are “new” companies like the Longaberger Company and West Rindge that make baskets one at a time by hand in the USA.
I am really drawn to handmade baskets with no name on them. Like this one with leather that opens wide on top. So darned romantic . . . and reminds me of “tisket a tasket a green and yellow basket.” Even though it is not green nor yellow.
Beyond the basket, other supplies necessary for a well – appointed picnic basket include plates, cups, silverware and a table cloth and/or blanket. Since most picnic tables in parks are long affairs – and most probably not as clean as we might like, a long tablecloth is really important. Otherwise, there will be a few comments . . . like, “What is that?”
No table? No problem if you have a blanket. But then, there might be a few hungry ants. I also keep a can of bug-off in the basket – not for ants but for mosquitos. I really do not like mosquitos; toss in a citronella candle for mood and as a repellent . . . by the way, picnics after dark can be the best of all.
Vintage plastic plates and cups are great to have since they are lightweight and eco-friendly. It is not so hard to rinse them off and then give them a wash at home.
I especially like the plates by Gotham Ware (ca. 1970s); the cup is held in place in the center of the plate – that is the center of gravity if you are eating on your lap as may happen out in the woods. What a great idea!
A Thermos or two is also good to keep in the basket for coffee or hot chocolate especially on chilly days in the fall and winter. Winter? Hot chocolate is mighty fine when you are out sledding. The vintage sets manufactured by Thermos and Aladdin are so neat . . . especially for a picnic for two.
A local playground or your own backyard just might be the best places for a Bears’ Picnic with young children . . . after all, sharing a picnic lunch with children is a quiet moment. Just the few of us with time to talk – and listen to their stories. Sooner than you think, you will have a picnic basket filled with pleasant memories.
Sharing the joy . . . we are giving away a Vintage Redmon Picnic Basket. How to win? Share your favorite picnic food. We will choose the winner on Monday, August 31. You will have the Redmon Basket in time for a Labor Day picnic. Oh, I almost forgot. The Redmon Basket that we are giving away is on the top of the pile of baskets – right in front. Here is close-up . . .