I have always been a sucker for a picnic, packed neatly into a basket, with sliverware neatly slotted into elastic holders attached to the lid, cloth napkins tucked carefully around the cheese and sausage. Not that I’ve really ever had any picnics like that, but still. When I was a kid, I so romanticized the idea of picnics, that in my mind they were not complete without a basket (any basket). My mom would surprise us with sandwiches and a trip to the park, and I would pitch a grumpy fit, because it did not fit my mental ideal of all an outdoor meal should be.
For my tenth birthday, my mom’s best friend Maria (and my defacto second mother) gave me a light colored wicker picnic basket. She stocked it with compartmentalized plates, multi-colored cups and a pack of purple plastic utensils. It was the hit of that birthday, and I skipped around the living room with it looped over my arm, imaging myself to be both Dorothy and Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Today, after a couple of meetings at school, I found myself behind the wheel of my car with a free hour. I felt an internal tug towards my old favorite Germantown thriftstore and pointed myself in that direction. An initial tour around the store left me disappointed. They’ve moved since the days when I stopped in there twice a week, and current organization of the clothes somehow clashes with the way my mind works. I never find anything there anymore (that might be a slight exaggeration). I did select a random ten books before heading for the vintage section.
On that pass, a perfect bent wood picnic basket caught my eye. It was lined with cherry-printed oil cloth and the silverware holder stapled to the lid was still intact. I felt a flurry of excitement in my chest. After I paid for my purchases and the books were tucked into the basket, I looped the handles over my arm in the same way I had done when I was ten. I felt my inner child chortle with excitement and then start planning a fall picnic.