Before we bid a fond farewell to summer, I think we should celebrate with one last picnic.
My favorite picnic scene in children’s literature takes place in the opening chapter of The Wind in the Willows, where Mole meets Ratty for the first time, and he is astonished with the contents of Ratty’s veddy British picnic hamper:
“There’s cold chicken inside it,” replied the Rat briefly;
“O stop, stop,” cried the Mole in ecstasies: “This is too much!”
“Do you really think so?” enquired the Rat seriously. “It’s only what I always take on these little excursions; and the other animals are always telling me that I’m a mean beast and cut it VERY fine!”
So begins a fine friendship and bucolic adventure that includes messing with boats in the best way, gypsy caravans, wild car rides, and forays into the wild woods and back. No matter your age, or what ails you, this classic by Kenneth Grahame is just the ticket.
Say what you will about your own brand of picnic; the British are definitely onto something with their wicker picnic hampers, real china, and sumptuous provisions. In this story, the delicious dreaminess of glorious summer days is spread upon an expansive cloth for all to savor, as the longings and foibles of dear Ratty, Mole, Badger, Otter, and even crazy Mr. Toad feed our imaginations and touch the heart.
Today I’ve rustled up some picnic-friendly picture books to satisfy your cravings for sandwiches, fried chicken, cold ham, pickles, watermelon, hunks of cheese, and crusty bread. It’s good to know that this wonderful feeling of sharing food outdoors with good friends need never end, because the picnic, whether you prefer yours at the beach, in a park, or on a river bank, is essentially a state of mind. Hold onto it as we move into the cooler days of autumn!
*spreads checked picnic cloth on the grass*