Memorial Day conjures for me the sight of a polished vintage automobile carrying old Mrs. Whalen down the centerline of Main Street during the annual parade in my hometown in the 1980s and 90s. She’d lost sons in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
The day that officially honors soldiers who died in war also unofficially marks the beginning of the summertime picnic season in the Northeast. Its approach makes me long for the picnics of my youth. There were cousins enough to field kickball teams and food enough to feed an army. There were folding chairs enough for the aunties who prepared all that food and uncles enough so that we kids didn’t have to lift a finger to help setup or break down the festivities.
As my family’s current picnic planner and green-eating sergeant at arms, I’ve compiled a mental checklist for pulling off the grandest picnics with the smallest environmental impact. I’ve written that list down here for your benefit and mine. While I can easily remember the air of solemn silence as Mrs. Whalen’s car passed my family sitting on the sidewalk in Lee, Massachusetts, 40 years ago, I routinely forget why I’ve gone down into the basement of my current home in Brunswick.
Oh right, now I remember. It was to pull out the picnic basket!
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