The Magic of a Picnic


When our children were small, and our bank accounts smaller, we would look at each other, laugh, and say “At least we can picnic!”

And picnic we did. On lawns and in front yards, at rivers and on beaches, in play grounds and even indoors – there was always time for a picnic.

Picnics have captured a corner of my heart. Just the mention of them makes me smile. I love the packing and planning. I love deciding on a spot. I love picnics.

In my childhood, picnics took place on the banks of dusty canals on the outskirts of Ratodero, Larkana and Shikarpur. We would find spots beside the desert brush of Sindh, lay out a quilt and unpack food fit for palaces and kingdoms.

I have memories of egg salad spread between two slices of my mom’s home made bread, home canned pickles adding just the right crunch. There was often chocolate cake for dessert — a depression-era recipe called Wacky cake that takes no eggs, no butter, and no milk.  It was a never fail recipe in a place where some ingredients were difficult to find, the tastes even more difficult to replicate.

Sometimes, while traveling, my dad would buy curry and chapatis at a local truck stop. We would sit, grease dripping down our chins, our eyes watering and noses sniffling from the pungent spices. With tummies filled we would pile into the car and head off on our journey.

As an adult, picnics have taken place at the base of the Great Pyramid and on huge wooden sail boats called feluccas; in back yards and on play grounds. Wherever we have lived we have found our favorite spot for picnics.

In recent years, we have picnicked in a place called Millbrook Meadow; a beautiful park with trees stretching up to the sky, providing shade and comfort. This meadow is a hidden gem in Rockport. While others crowd into the tiny beach across the street, we prefer the meadow where there is ample space to spread out. Out come sandwiches or fried chicken, potato salad or chips, and green or red grapes that pop in our mouths.

At times, our picnics have become more sophisticated with wine, special cheeses, olives, and fruit bites. Despite the sophistication, they retain the essential ingredients of relaxation and joy.

Picnics are multicultural and ageless. I have seen families that are Pakistani, Iraqi, Egyptian, Indian, Mexican, Turkish and so many more gather in all corners of the globe to picnic. Wherever they take place, picnics bring with them a certain magic and child-like fun.

In this life journey, picnics are a chance to forget the worries of daily life and take back lost moments.

So, next time life gets complicated – go on a picnic. 

8 thoughts on “The Magic of a Picnic

  1. Marilyn – What I’ve picked up from your post is how nostalgic picnics are. Picnics are so intrinsically related to childhood and the creation of stories and memories. And it’s so true – picnics are as multicultural as you want them to be. I’m just about to go to India, and would love to see how they picnic over there!I I’ve just started writing a picnic blog, and it is true how picnics are all about creating memories.
    Thanks for the post, it’s already made me nostalgic for my own picnics!
    I would be so grateful if you could check out my new picnic blog, and let me know if there are things I could change/concentrate on. X


  2. My husband was a master of picnics! He would carefully chop all kinds of salad stuff, slice ham, make potato salad than pack trays, plates, cutlery and all other necessities for successful al fresco dining!

    Crisps (potato chips) were also de rigueur as was a nice slice of fruit cake and an apple.

    All packed in the cool box, off we would go for a day out!


  3. I’m feeling some picnic shame. We used to picnic A LOT as a kid…but to be honest it’s been forever since we’ve packed up supper and headed to the park or the lake or the back yard…. My lazy bones have deprived my children and our family. And that makes me sad. Today the heat index is 108* so a picnic won’t happen today either. Sigh. I miss picnics.


  4. I spent my preschool years in Wyoming, and my family learned to enjoy camping in the 6 years we lived in that lovely state. After we moved to humid, hot Houston, we learned that camping is unbearable for us in that climate, so we made like homing pigeons back to the Rocky Mountains every summer vacation that we could manage. Because my parents were both Depression babies indelibly marked by the poverty of their families then, they were rarely willing to spend money on motels or even eating at McDonald’s, so picnics for breakfast, lunch, and supper were the norm for our trips, as was pitching the tent each night and blowing up air mattresses. Even when Dad finally relented and let us stay in cheap motels when we were on our way to either Wyoming to camp or Pennsylvania to see relatives, we ate sandwiches in the car, or at most at a picnic table by the public bathrooms along national highways! But whatever the conditions, picnics were a break from the norm, and so I have fond memories connected to the word.
    I have a few MCS picnic memories, too, but mostly at tables behind the hostel on lovely clear days, trying to keep students from wasting food by throwing what they didn’t want over the cud. I got so irritated with the senior boys taking six “pigs in a blanket”, removing the sausage from the dough, consuming the meat and throwing the pastry over the cud! Then the cooks would run out of the ‘pigs in a blanket” before all the elementary kids got through the line because of the wasteful seniors. And of course the monkeys would come and hang around longer because of the food they could find. I was so thankful when things changed and such behavior was no longer acceptable!


  5. Marilyn, a very timely blog for the summer! Picnics are very special and I’m remembering those in Murree; cool,
    green Murree. In Hyderabad we lived on the edge of a field that led to the Indus River. Hu and I would sometimes pack a late afternoon basket and watch the sunset. In Ratodero we picnicked on the canals, often with the Brown family. Our small children loved the freedom and openness. On such a picnic your brother Ed provided us with everlasting drama and memories! It was Dr. Ronnie Holland who treated us to the ultimate picnic when he laid out fine china, pate, English tea and other goodies on a visit with him in England after the death of his beloved Joan. Bring on picnics, please.


  6. The picnic picture that popped up for me was on the banks of the Indus in Hyderabad – your birthday? or Stan’s? I think there were Greenslades there, Robyn, Michael, Judy, and perhaps Ed’s friend Moeet. In our early years in Pakistan, those picnics on the canal bank were a real respite from our living situation with tiny courtyards and no grass. I also remember picnics with the Pakistani teens in Larkana. Loved their picnic specialties – pratas stuffed with a curried veggie and thermoses of chai in cool weather or mango squash in hot. Thank God for these lovely memories.


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