01 June 2010

Seasonal Traditions ... Hello Sunshine!

High Spring is such a fun time to gather outside for a picnic! SB and I went to a Memorial Day shin-dig at a friend's home yesterday. It was the kind of old-fashioned affair that has been going on ever since folks started living in 'neighborhoods'. The entire street and half the county was invited to bring a dish or plate of picnic fare and show up around dinnertime. Harold cranked up the grill and had burgers and hotdogs smoking up the backyard. There was a platter of baked chicken and a pot full of pulled pork prepared and then ... dishes of all shapes and sizes starting arriving with folks. Children of all shapes and sizes began running around and swooping into the buffet table for a chip with guacamole or a deviled egg or some tortillas and taco dip or celery and hummus or, or, or ...

It was really fun to watch the dynamics of this party unfold. Young couples with toddlers held on to their small fry until the kids just couldn't resist wiggling loose to run with the big kids. The older folks' eyes crinkled up with laughter over the Corgis' and kids' antics.  People mixed and exchanged names and renewed each other's memories about home locations, whose kids were whose, where they work, all the important stuff. There was the pop of bottle caps and the clink of friendly toasts being made and a good-natured cheer when the first 'dogs' and burgers came off the grill.

When everyone had plates loaded up with a little of everything, a quiet lull fell over the crowd. I remembered the days when I fixed plates for my small fry, as I watched some of the young parents hand off carrot sticks and pieces of rotini to the little ones, as they cut up a hotdog, dipped pieces in ketchup or mustard and readied plates of  'finger food'. Someone suggested making a plate up for one of the elderly neighbors who couldn't be at the party . The food was plentiful and outstanding!

There began to be a rise in conversation (and volume) as plates emptied and a second beer or 'iced tea' made the rounds. The kids, renewed after a plate of fuel, started a game of tag and 'piggyback rides' for the toddlers. The adults settled back in chairs and chatted about everything from the community parade and remembrance ceremony, to the haze in the sky caused by a massive forest fire up North in Quebec to summertime vacation plans to school budgets to the Tea Party movement to fierce creatures like Junebugs and snakes. The Corgis ranged around looking for 'fallout' from the meal and flopped under chairs to rest from games of fetch. All was a happy chaos of plates and flatware, chatter, chairs and people spread willy-nilly over Cathy and Harold's backyard! And slowly, the sun started to go down.

Then, it was time for dessert. Someone made a cherry pie that was a beautiful and gooey work of art. Another inspiration was a plate of mini-cupcakes that were decked out with red, white, and blue sprinkles; they were promptly devoured by the kids. A cool and juicy fruit salad made the rounds. There were plates of snickerdoodles and chocolate chip cookies and a platter of brownies. And then, the kids REALLY ran around! If not for the mosquitoes and dusk, we'd probably have lingered until late, but families needed to head home for 'bed and school the next day', the work week hovered for most folks, and the tiki torches were getting low on fuel. The picnic day ended gently, as one family, and then the next, gathered loose shoes, empty platters and dishes, made their 'thank-you's' and 'nice to see you's, and strolled home through the dusk.

It was truly a fun gathering! I hope your Memorial Day was just as happy! If you didn't have a good old-fashioned potluck picnic, I urge you to start planning and sending out the invites for the next good parade weekend or holiday ... it's comin' on summer and time for these simple things!

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