Friday, August 1, 2008

The Worn and Tattered Picnic Basket

This spring one of my scheduled chores I was determined to accomplish was to clean the storage room out in the garage. In going through the shelves separating the items into two stacks to either throw away or keep I spied an article way up on the top shelf that instantly brought back fond memories of childhood. It was a dusty tattered split-oak picnic basket I remembered from childhood days.

The dusty and tattered basket was used by my grandmother and later my mother over the years of their lives. I climbed the ladder and brought the old basket down. After giving it a good dusting I opened the lid and precious memories of days gone by poured from the basket.

I remembered my earliest recollection of the basket, when on a picnic to a nearby lake when I was five years old, I had an encounter with a buzzing bumble bee on one of those hot and humid Mississippi summer days resulting in a sting to my thumb. Running to my elderly grandmother I received comfort that only a grandmother can give, including a poultice of snuff and water applied to the sting. I don’t know if it was due to my grandmother’s love or the snuff poultice, but the hurt went away. I suspect it may have been the former.

I remember the little basket at a picnic trip to Shiloh in nearby Tennessee. Back in those days a trip to such a place was important and solemn – a place where men had fought and died. After inspecting many of the beautiful monuments of the various states and visiting such sites as The Peach Orchard and Pittsburg Landing, I remember our little picnic in the refreshingly cool shade of a hickory tree on the banks of the nearby river.

The little basket over the years traveled all over the countryside around here – from church socials and cemetery memorials to family reunions, birthday parties at Fireman’s Park in town, and country outings with neighbors and friends. And the tasty picnic food that little basket has held over the years makes me yearn for those slow and leisurely days again – southern fried chicken fried in a black iron skillet, fried apple and peach pies, Dixie relish, potato salad, deviled eggs, slow-baked ham and baked beans prepared with plenty of brown sugar, onions and sweet peppers.

In cleaning that day, it didn’t take me long at all to decide the fate of the basket. The little picnic basket, although tattered and worn, simply went back to its resting place on the top shelf.

This post was written for the Geneabloggers Picnic.

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