What is it about eating outside?

OK, but besides the bugs. They have to eat too.

What makes a picnic at the beach, or spreading a blanket and sharing food at evening concert, or a cook out in the back yard so much fun, so rich or even romantic?

Why is drinking a morning cup of tea in my garden surrounded by the sleepy notes of early birds greeting a waking sun, so much more satisfying than sitting indoors?

This evening I carried my bowl of tomato panzanella, a summer bounty highlighted with my own sourdough bread torn in pieces and long thin strips of cucumbers and fragrant basil from our garden, out to the back porch.

Setting the bowl down on the yellow oilcloth covered table, the artichokes and seedy tomato vinaigrette, which was coaxing the bread pieces into a rosy hue, seemed determined to catch the attention of my nose and eye. The tablecloth pattern of lavender sprigs and bouquets and shiny black olives created the perfect back drop for this palette of colorful vegetables.

It makes me smile. It is a happy table. As though I had prepared food and set the table for a guest.  Who, me?!

Retrieving a glass of wine from the kitchen, I step back onto the porch and slip into the only chair at the table that isn’t occupied by a sleeping cat. Evidently, they had earlier reservations.

I momentarily close my eyes just as a soft summer breeze meanders across my face. Mmmmmm.  The perfect invitation to relax and enjoy my meal. I breathe the cooling evening air deep into my lungs and exhale slowly, feeling neck and shoulders melt. I feel satisfied and I haven’t eaten a thing.

Nourished by nature.

How is it that we forget how nurturing nature can be and how eating out of doors can contribute to our satisfaction? Even if we don’t have access to a garden or porch because we live in an apartment or in the city, there is always the sky over roof tops, a window to crack open, a city sparrow’s chirp, rain or snow on the window pane, a passing bird or cloud, and the food before us: texture, temperature, interior/exterior surfaces, fragrance, colors, sounds and tastes.

Make mine a picnic, please!

How do you create a “picnic” for yourself or with others?  What role does nature play in helping you to slow down and allow yourself to be nourished by nature and the food you eat?

Char Wilkins, USA



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