on summer picnics

As a child our picnics often involved a swing through the country market to pick up a loaf of Wonder Bread, freshly sliced deli bologna and cheese, chips and a few bottles of soda. We'd head to the shoreline along the Potomac at Wakefield and set up our folding lawn chairs where we'd savor our sandwiches, wade in the water, and collect sharks' teeth.

Now it seems there is a great deal of work involved in the simple summer picnic. Between attempting to artfully arrange charcuterie and googling "mason-jar teas," it all feels like too much Pinterest-induced pressure. Vintage tablecloths and picnic hampers look beautiful, but sometimes I just need a simpler approach. Pack-and-go.

We ate ALL of the blueberries we picked last week, so we traveled back to Ells Farm in Madison County to pick more berries, with our picnic in an insulated bag.

The slightly salty ham balanced with crisp broccoli salad. Watermelon with mint for dessert.

The curve of the rural highway, edged by the scallop of wires from pole to pole. Blue skies dotted with cotton-ball clouds as far as the eye can see.

A painting of colorful horses on the side of a barn like one of so many blocks in a patchwork quilt, bound with sweeping swaths of summer wheat.

Along the stream at Lenn Park, an artful rock, painted with a scene much like this day, left for me to find and to share.

Just as sleep is more restful with rain on the roof, or waking up to bird songs more cheerful than a buzzing alarm,  food eaten at a picnic table in the park tastes more satisfying, making a meal worth remembering.