Our Picnic Essay

Then, just as the party was about to begin, there was a problem with our hot dog vendor. In other words, THEY ENJOYED THEMSELVES, without having any structure!

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A wooded plot containing a tavern was recast as a picnic grove by Henry Kolze.

It sounds so simple today, to find a bit of largely unadorned scenery such a joyful draw.

The picnic became a pleasure excursion to places that were once survival’s battlefield.

For 250 years, the picnic reigned as a premier entertainment for wide swaths of society.

Urbanization increased, and with it the desire to escape the city.

Enterprising individuals bought especially scenic parcels of land—water frontage practically mandatory—and set up for-profit picnic groves.One of cinema’s favorite double entendres occurs during a picnic in Hitchcock’s Grace Kelly and Cary Grant are preparing to dine from a hamper in the sexy Sunbeam Alpine roadster they have driven along the scenic Grand Corniche road when she deadpans, “You want a leg or a breast?” It’s a common narrative pivot, with the picnic as a fulcrum: the spontaneous tryst in the shrubbery during an innocent excursion to the countryside.Picnic wagons, and later trolleys, made runs from the center of town.One of these was in Dunning, Illinois, which was still rolling prairie outside Chicago in 1870.Regardless of when it began, picnicking has become ingrained in our culture, mostly because it’s so easy yet so rewarding: put together a light meal, grab a book and a blanket, and go to town (or rather, to country).Now that it’s warm enough for you to plan your own outings, check out these books; they’ll help you scour the farmers’ market for the best seasonal ingredients, make everything from snacks to feasts, locate the best picnic spot…and, of course, give you a book or two to bury your nose in while you enjoy the lovely weather outdoors.In so doing, oppressive social expectations gave way to nature’s inhibition—and humans’ half-wild nature.On the basis of its subsequent depiction in art and movies, one can be forgiven for assuming the picnic’s primary aim is the shedding of garments rather than the ingestion of deviled eggs.French painters Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, and James Tissot all took on the subject. Culturally and aesthetically, it represented the passage from one world to another.Baskets and blankets crossed bridges both literal and figurative, from dense manufacturing centers to bucolic pastures overlooking river or lake.


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