What’s In A Basket?

Crunching leaves, gentle breeze, warm sun, and birds chirping. This is what could comprise a glorious day having a picnic. Remember those?

*Photo by Graeme Weatherston

The idea of an “old-fashioned” picnic conjures the vision of people in their car, driving until they find a nice spot alongside the road to pull over and cop-a-squat. Picnics now are more the local park variety. Which is nice, don’t get me wrong, but a bit restrictive. No glass

Scene from Mad Men

bottles, no alcohol (come on, wine!), and too many other people around. Think Mad Men Season 2. Just don’t flip the trash off the blanket and leave it on the ground.

An intimate picnic with your family or your significant other, or even a small group of friends, is a lost achievement. Large public picnics are the new norm. Everyone sharing the same space.

There’s never a quiet moment. And forget a romantic picnic, there are inevitably screaming children who are kicking a ball that hits you in the head and some woman with the shrill voice you can’t help but overhear asking if there’s any more potato salad.

The free summer concerts in the parks are actually a good venue for picnics. Plus, they do away with the no alcohol rule temporarily. These types of public picnics are an exception. With summer fast approaching I am impatient with anticipation for these! There are so many of these where I live, I love them. I especially like Concerts by the Sea at La Jolla Cove . You’re right next to the beach, what could be better? My picnic basket is a trusty companion when I attend these summer concerts. Whether it’s carrying food and utensils, or just utensils, it makes for a more

My basket is not vintage, but I still love it.

carefree and whimsical feeling. A small cooler is a necessity if you pack perishable items, but I pass on those big clunky coolers. There is nothing romantic about those.

Randomly driving on a road to find a place to pull over and have a picnic is probably frowned upon now. Either you would be trespassing or there would be some ridiculous “no drinking in public”law. Psh. I have a craving for an old-fashioned picnic and the day that goes with it.

Choosing which foods to take, which bottle of wine goes best with those foods, and then packing them tenderly in the basket with plates and utensils. When I come upon a vintage picnic basket in my antique perusing, I’m always compelled to lift the lid, inspect the recesses, and wonder how many sushi rolls I could possibly fit into it.

I love the ones (like above) that have storage space in the lid. So convenient, compact, and snug.

Cute plaid.

These two baskets (above and right) were photographed at Carlsbad Antique Mall, one of my favorite places. Two buildings full of treasures and the nicest people working there. (And a great selection of records!)

I would love to hop in my 1955 Chevy convertible (in my dreams!), with a scarf over my hair (because the top is down), pushing the buttons on the radio until I find some Otis Redding (Big O), and I spot that perfect place to put my blanket down. There’s a quiet peacefulness, some trees, some birds, and a beautiful blue sky. Laying on the blanket with a glass of wine and some good company watching the wispy white clouds floating over head. Now that is a picnic.

*Graeme Weatherston / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

20 thoughts on “What’s In A Basket?

  1. Great entry, I try to do this at least once a year where I live. They have a Shakespeare in the park every summer that is perfect for picnics.
    On a different note, I stumbled onto your blog when you did the one about silent films, and I must say that I am relieved. It’s rare to find people who enjoy such things. Thanks for being you.


  2. I agree with you, nowadays it is much harder to find those types of places to have a private picnic. I think it would still be a fun time trying, though. Thanks for inspiring me to go out and have my own private picnic!


  3. The best picnic is near a field with wild strawberries. Reminds me of being a kid.

    Being the borderline-deranged person that I am, your post also made me think of Kingdom of the Spiders, an early 70’s flick with William Shatner. Only because of the picnic scene. Let’s hope yours doesn’t end with a tarantula attack. Unless you’re into that sort of thing.


      • On a side note, the movie poster for Them! is one of the best ever conceived.

        I’m going to go ahead and assume you like a good movie poster as much as anyone. As soon as my goofball blog becomes a raging success and earns me millions in ad revenue, I’m buying a mansion, the walls of which I will decorate with framed movies posters. Nothing post 1980, though. They stopped hiring artists to paint them after that.


  4. I don’t find many opportunities to picnic, but I wouldn’t mind using a vintage picnic basket as my laptop holder. Everywhere I went I would carry that basket and people would be so excited to see me because they’d assume I had a basket full of food.


  5. I think we had that picnic basket in the black and white picture…we used to know where every concrete roadside park table / bench was located from the Gulf coast to Denver…I was always partial to the ones that sat back from the road a bit and maybe had a tree….that way when a car drove by it didn’t blow the plaid plastic table cloth quite so bad..I hated to sit on the benches..I mean birds ….. great blog


  6. Love this.

    I have about 5 picnic baskets. I use the largest, just like in your photo in the antique store, because it is a top-loader, so I take it to dinners and luncheons when I am bringing food. I used it to carry a silver chafing dish with mashed sour cream n chive potatoes just 2 weeks back. And again, with soup and salad last weekend, to a friends.
    At least, that way, I get to use my picnic baskets!

    What I really long for is an outdoor picnic. As kids, we drove a long way to the shore for vacatons in the summer, which required 2 cars. We’d stop somewhere along the back roads, by the woods, and have a tail gate picnic, which was always exciting for us. It was the 60’s, afterall, and we looked like scenes from Mad Men, and all of those magazine photos of the Kennedy’s.

    Thanks for this lovely, charming and inspiring post. I will make a date for a picnic, even if I go alone! Nothing wrong with lunch in the park on a blanket by myself.


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