Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Day 114 - Having a Traditional Picnic

I have never had a traditional picnic. This was another one of the events on my "I have never..." list that caught me by surprise when it first came to mind. There are plenty of times I remember packing a lunch and eating outdoors as a child, but I can't recall a single time in my life that I had a traditional picnic. By that I mean a picnic with a woven basket and a blanket in the grass on a beautiful day. I don't know why, but it just hasn't happened up to this point in my life. As a result, I made plans to head to one of Madison's many parks with Rachael this evening. After a long three-day weekend, the decision would prove a perfect way to unwind in the final hours of a wonderful early September day.

My first traditional picnic began with a quick effort to throw together a meal after getting home from work this evening. After a quick stop at the grocery store, I had enough supplies to throw together a simple dinner of sandwiches, some vegetables, some snacks, and, of course, a bottle of wine. With Rachael's help we made quick work of the preparations for the meal and were out the door within minutes of my arrival home. With the dogs in tow, we hit the road to make the brief trip to Brittingham Park in downtown Madison.

All packed up!

Upon arriving at the park, Rachael and I took our time locating a spot in the waning sunlight. With our picnic spot chosen, I took some time to set everything up in the grass, which resulted in us realizing we forgot a wine bottle opener in our earlier haste to prepare the picnic basket. Fortunately, the neighborhood around the park was stirring with the activity of some welcoming and helpful residents that were happy to spot us a wine bottle opener for a few minutes. In turn, we cracked our bottle of wine open and prepared for our lakeside dinner at my first traditional picnic.

The setup

The evening meal was everything I had hoped it would be. While I was distracted by some issues with my camera for a portion of the picnic, the perfect weather, the beautiful scenery, a pair of cooperative dogs, and the company of my wonderful girlfriend made for a relaxing and tranquil experience. As we worked our way through our meal, the evening quietly transitioned into sunset, leaving us surrounded by the burgeoning sounds of night. As I took time to take in the setting around us, I couldn't help but feel we had chosen the ideal time and place for my first traditional picnic. It nearly impossible to find anything about the evening that could be better, which, in a way, made me happy I had waited so long to gain the experience. This day, in this place, with this company will make the memories of my first traditional picnic stick with me for a long time. I couldn't ask for anything more.

My company
Eventually, the fading light and the cooling air lead Rachael, Buddy, Baxter, and I to call it a night, pack up our things, and head back home. Upon arriving back at our house, it was clear the picnic had put all of us in comfortable, calm state. As a result, the rest of the evening wound down quickly, with lingering fatigue from a busy weekend and tomorrow's obligations calling us to sleep earlier than usual for a Tuesday night. As I prepared to settle in for the night, I thought about the effects of starting an evening with an event as relaxing as a picnic. Although it was a simple thing to do, it just made the rest of the night seem a little bit better. I didn't feel exhausted, I wasn't worried about what tomorrow's workday would bring, and I wasn't finding it hard to get to sleep. I was good. Just good... and that alone made this experience worth it.

The sunset on our way out of the park

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