Right now, when the world is twisting around in uncertainty, death, horror, and all things that terrify us, we need a picnic.
We need a picnic with the kinds of things that our mom made. Potato salad with just the right amount of mustard. Hot dogs grilled by dad, who always let them get that delicious dark brown crust on the outside. Soft buns. Baked beans that are really baked, not the kind from a can. Orange Kool-Aid and iced tea with mint. For dessert, we need huge slices of watermelon with tons of seeds that we spit at each other.
We need that picnic table on the concrete patio, the splintery table that our mom put an oilcloth cover on. We absolutely need white paper napkins and those aluminum tumblers in a rainbow of colors–the ones that sweat all over the outside and cool off our hands. Paper plates. We need a torrid day that turns into the sort of gentle night in which we can sit out on the Adirondack chairs and pretend we can see the Big Dipper. Even though it just looks like a wash of ink up there, pricked with a thousand tiny lights.
We need our dad to sit there pontificating about the complete ridiculousness of rock and roll, when “Everyone knows that the only true musicians write symphonies.” We need our mom to tell us that actually, there is cherry pie with ice cream if anybody has room.
We need safety. The safety of a world before now, when the only scary things were holding a sparkler for too long and burning fingers, or falling off the bike when we were enjoying coasting along, hair blowing in the breeze, but then we accidentally leaned back and set off the brakes suddenly. Rusty nails. Stray dogs. Cavities.
Let’s try to go back there.