As a child, one of my favorite summer activities was getting together with my cousins on Sunday afternoons for picnics in the Allegheny mountains and at various state parks. The men grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, and the women brought everything else. Our family typically brought Pringles potato chips, Jello, and a version of Cherries Jubilee that consisted of graham cracker crumbs, a cream cheese filling, and cherry pie filling spread over the top. We ate until we were overly stuffed, and then we ran around playing wiffleball or hide-and-seek. Eventually a bunch of us would go for a hike, and if it was the right time of summer, we could pick huckleberries. Later in the day, we would uncover the leftovers and eat some more. No one was concerned about botulism then, even though the picnic tables were full of meat, deviled eggs, potato salad, and sliced watermelon. If we stayed late enough into the evening, there might be a campfire and the younger children would catch fireflies.
Our family continues this tradition on a smaller scale at our farmhouse with friends and extended family throughout the summer. We heralded in the beginning of my favorite season with a picnic/cookout on Memorial Day. I tried to stick with the traditional foods of deviled eggs, cut veggies and watermelon in Tupperware containers, barbecue potato chips (not Pringles though,) hot dogs and hamburgers with all the usual condiments, brownies sprinkled with red, white, and blue M-n-Ms, and Arnold Palmers, Samuel Adams beer, and Vodka Tonics. We also had some pita crackers and red roasted pepper hummus, which my family would have never even heard of back in the seventies.
We shared our picnic area with various mountain farm animals, including a couple of hens and cats who kept waiting for food to drop.
This interesting moth also shared our space after emerging from its cocoon earlier in the day. I believe this is a polyphemus moth, but please correct me if I am wrong.
Our children and friends were able to swim before and after eating dinner this past weekend. When I was growing up, we were thrilled to wade or swim in a local creek. One park in particular had a zipline that ran from one side of the creek bank to the other, allowing you to drop off in the middle of a deep wading hole. There was also a thick rope hung from a tree that you could swing and jump from if you were brave enough. Since our pool water is still not quite 70 degrees, we adults just watched our children have fun in the pool.
Here's hoping that this summer allows us many more opportunities to keep this tradition of mountain picnics alive.