Enjoying a French Pique-Nique in Rochester

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Screen shot of the painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Geoges Seurat


Every once in a while, a lesson, a class, a moment goes so beautifully, my wish is to recreate, to have a re-do, to plan an encore.  Last week that moment occurred during my French 1’s end of the year pique-nique.  Mes étudiants, my students,  celebrated baguettes, a true bonjour, friendships, badmitten, le futbol, being outside under a sky so bleu it felt surreal.  

The day was magic, my cherubs played like puppies, grabbed some badminton racquets and when there was a need for another, one student took his notebook, improvised it for a racquet, slammed the birdie with paper.  We  laughed under the shade of a tree, ate melted goat cheese and exhaled after a year like no other.

Susan Dromey Heeter

And today I muse joyfully that, particularly if you are an educator, you have moments like these with those students you have loved, endured, zoomed, dragged over a finish line this year. We all need warm baguettes, goat cheese, a sunny day, joy in being outside, laughing with friends, with colleagues.  We need a break.

Two young teachers joined our picnic, incredible women for whom teaching is relatively fresh but who survived a year with grace, dignity and humor.  We sat together, watched our students laugh and play, witnessed teenagers off screens, teenagers who truly embraced la joie de vivre.

At one point, we each grabbed bags of chips students brought to the fête: Le Doritos Spicy Nacho, Le Doritos Cool Ranch and Le Barbeque Chips.  I’d brought seats for the VIPs, beach chairs I carry in the back of my car, ever ready for the impromptu pique-nique. Chrissy, Emily and I each had our own bag, displaying total American gaucheness by eating directly from the cellophane wrappings.  Alas, Chrissy remarked, “This is the best, sun, outside, these kids, cool Ranch Doritos.”  A tres, tres belle moment.  

And while I would not like an encore of this year, I shall recreate an encore of a day outside, with bread and chips, pause and fun.  That was the goal of the event, quite frankly, to stop, to laugh, to celebrate the French way, to not rush, to embrace the moment and bask in the beauty of a day.

I muse joyfully you will do just that. 

Bon voyage, mes amis, put those beach chairs in your car and get prêt pour la fête.

Susan Dromey Heeter is a writer from Dover who recently let her hair go au natural white. Writing has been her passion since her English majoring days at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.  Dromey Heeter has lived in The Netherlands, Alaska and currently basks in all things New England, including the frigid winters. An avid swimmer, Dromey Heeter’s great passion is to bring back body surfing as most children have no idea how to ride waves without ridiculous boogie boards.

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