Vaccines are rolling out and businesses are reopening, but hanging out in crowded, enclosed spaces still feels like wobbly territory. With spring underway and summer swiftly approaching, what better activity to beat the late-pandemic blues than a picnic? Picnics are an excuse to get out of the house and be a person in the world without getting caught up in a droplet-storm with a sea of strangers. They're also cute and wholesome as heck. Here’s what you’ll need to cultivate the perfect picnic experience.
1. A blanket. Picnic blankets are part of the reason why picnics are the pinnacle of pandemic leisure (aka pleisure). A standard blanket can only accomodate a few people, which encourages you to keep your party to a responsible size. If you’re trying to convene in a larger group, extra members will need to bring their own blanket and station it at a six-foot distance from yours in the name of COVID-consciousness. A blanket creates a boundary between your hindquarters and the grass or sand below (plus whatever might be living or decomposing therein), as well as a boundary between you and the rest of the world.
2. Drinks and eats. Of course, the most important element of any picnic is the food. Picnics allow you to avoid dealing with overrun restaurants (unless you’re picking up takeout), and to choose how much (or how little) money and energy to spend. You can personalize the spread to your individual needs, preferences, and budget. You may opt to visit your nearby fine-food purveyor for their stinkiest cheese and fanciest pickles; or head to your corner bodega or your local gas station convenience store for barbeque chips and Sour Patch Kids; or throw together errant ingredients from your fridge and pantry. You may even choose to cook or bake your own treats from scratch to add some specialness to the whole affair.
In the sweltering sun that may soon shine upon us, don’t forget to slap on some SPF and stay hydrated. If tap water won’t suffice, choose your own hydration adventure by picking up some sparkling water or your favorite Gatorade flavor, or by mixing up your own custom blend of cooling cucumber-mint water, if you're fancy like that.
3. Good company. A picnic makes for an ideal activity for reuniting with those friends you haven’t seen in a year, while staying safely spaced in individual blanket-pods. Because you'll be following the rules of nature rather than the rules of a particular business establishment, you may even bring your dog, your guinea pig, or your bearded dragon (the last of which has the bonus function of eating any insects that encroach upon your blanketed territory).
Moreover, meeting up for dates—even with strangers from Hinge—is slowly starting to feel more okay and less like literally flirting with death. Even so, a crowded bar still feels like a danger zone. An outdoor picnic allows you and your date to hang out safely in public without sacrificing a romantic and intimate atmosphere. And if the conversation grows stale, you can always comment on the blueness of the sky, the ancient wisdom of the trees, or the obnoxious bongo-playing of that guy over there.
4. Listening, reading, or crafting materials. Sometimes you want to get out of your cramped apartment to be where the people are, but to do so without having to actually interact with another human being. Such a hankering makes way for a solo picnic on your own little blanket island. Shove an episode of your favorite podcast or a mood-calibrated Spotify playlist and a pair of headphones into your earholes. Immerse yourself in a good book or the latest issue of BUST magazine. Work on that hand-knit face mask you’re knitting. Or just sit back and watch your fellow humans on their own blanket islands, free of pathogen-packed indoor spaces and basking in the warm glow of sunshine and socially distanced solidarity.
Top Image by Alejandra Ponce via Unsplash
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Molly MacGilbert is a British-born writer currently based in Portland, Oregon. She loves cats, carbs, thrifting and Twin Peaks. For more, visit mollymacgilbert.com.
Author photo by Allison Barr / @alliisonder