It’s finally here, my friends! July is National Picnic Month. When was the last time you grabbed a big ol’ blanket, packed some grub in that basket, and headed to the great outdoors? I’m gonna take a stab in the dark here and say it’s probably been too long. Am I right?
Not real keen on the idea of throwing a blanket on the ground to eat? No problem. In my opinion, any meal you eat outside qualifies as a picnic. Explore what your community parks have to offer for shelters and/or picnic tables. Try a different one each week until you find your favorite. Side bonus: You’ll come to appreciate where you live even more than you already do. Even sitting on your patio furniture in your backyard fits the bill. Just get outside.
Why on earth do picnics even have their own month? Back in 1952, the American Bakers’ Association decided picnics were worthy of celebration, so they declared that July would be National Picnic Month. While I wasn’t able to find much history on it, it’s safe to assume this was a way of encouraging people to get outside and enjoy everything nature has to offer. And if you ask me, making a meal the instigator is quite brilliant.
With the hectic lifestyle we’ve all come to adopt, spending more time outside in the fresh air and sunshine is crucial to optimal health and overall wellbeing, and there are many reasons that our kids especially need to play outside. Picnics are a fantastic way to slow the pace of daily life and connect with each other—but first make sure to disconnect from all of your devices. You may hear some squawking from your fellow picnic-goers, but just remind them that we all somehow survived for a whole lotta’ years even when we couldn’t reach everyone 24/7. Respond to those texts, emails, and voicemails after some quality downtime.
Are you afraid of sun exposure? Dr. Jeremy Overholt will ease your mind with his post “How to Do Summer Right” here at SRP. As Dr. Overholt explains, we should seek out a certain amount of direct sunlight rather than avoid it completely. Beyond that healthy level of sun exposure, he suggests sun protection through nutritional supplementation, or even just simply covering up with a hat and light clothing rather than a toxic sunscreen. The Healing Sun by Richard Hobday is another superb source of research on how to use sunlight for healing.
What about the bugs out there? I feel for those of you who get eaten alive by those pesky things, and that includes members of my own family. But you don’t need to choose between avoiding outdoor activities altogether or suffering the itchy consequences for days after. Check out this DIY natural bug spray from Wellness Mama. It may just be the DEET-free answer you’ve been searching for.
What are the best picnicking foods? I suggest that you keep it simple to begin with. Pack some sandwiches, a bag of potato chips, a tub of baby carrots, and a water bottle for everyone. When you become a more seasoned picnicker, you can build on your menu and show off your culinary flair. You can even seek out local parks that provide grills right next to their shelters and give your picnic a tailgating theme.
I’d be interested to hear what going on a picnic inspires you to do next. Maybe you’ll start incorporating walking or hiking into your outdoor eating adventures. Maybe you’ll join me in picking up the trash you see laying around as you’re out and about in the world. Appreciating nature enough to take an active role in keeping it beautiful is truly fulfilling.
Whether you’re an avid picnicker or haven’t packed a basket in years, take advantage of these long, warm summer days and get in touch with the outdoors. Hopefully, by the time you turn your calendar to August, if a neighbor asks you what you did last night, you’ll be able to say that you enjoyed dinner at the neighborhood park—and you had the best time. 🙂
Image from iStock/DisobeyArt.