The Magic of Eating Outside

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Fourth Cliff, Scituate, Mass. Susan Dromey Heeter photo


There are words that align so beautifully with summer they ought to be tattooed upon bronzed backs:  hammock, breeze, sunbathing, blueberries, swimming and picnic.  While today I muse joyfully on all of those words, muse joyfully upon a pristine summer of 2022, I especially get the ink ready for my most favorite: picnic.

First of all, eating outside is magical. No restaurant can compare with the canopy of trees, with a ceiling of blue, with the background music of laughs and birds, with the optimal air conditioning of a breeze, a gentle wind that ruffles a napkin or two and insists upon a basket to weigh down those napkins so they don’t blow away.  

Susan Dromey Heeter

And as I think of picnic and summer of ‘22, I cannot help but think of my favorite picnic, the one a few weeks ago held on the Great Hill in Central Park, NYC, the one where I met up with friends I’d not seen for a while save for Zoom calls and texts and all that technology that connects.

But the picnic connected in another, beautiful, glorious way that no amount of technology can replace: I saw shoes, I hugged, I ate a sandwich with Erich and laughed with his husband, Cork, who told me he’d helped carry the sandwiches which was no small feat. We giggled at his accomplishment, and I was reminded that the beauty of a picnic is that we all contribute – by going, by bringing food, by serving, by sitting under the canopy of a tree, by inviting someone to “come here, sit next to me.” 

Seats are glorious pieces of grass or benches of picnic tables that, of course, are created specifically for outdoor eating. There is no fine china to worry about, no linens, even crumbs that fall are no cause for clean ups, a spill is simply soaked up by earth, picnics are the simplest of gatherings.

And simple is the best word among friends: simple hugs and laughs, simple clothing and food: sandals, soda, chips, Fritos.  And the Central Park picnic allowed for a 360 degree view, when I was talking to my friend, William, I could not help but see Dana taking a selfie with Fermin.  She kissed him upon the cheek, he smiled.  I felt not only part of, but grateful for the community that picnics promote: small feasts, joyous reunions, pure love.  

If you have not gone to a picnic this summer, there is still plenty of time, plenty of space, plenty of opportunity to eat beneath the sky with friends, with community, with family, with grass beneath your toes.  I muse joyfully you will enjoy an outing in Central Park or Henry Law Park or Prescott Park or even just upon a slice of grassy earth by the side of the road.

Enjoy the end to your summer ‘22, stay connected via technology or a picnic, or ideally both. 

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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