By Shelly Reuben

I want to invite you to a picnic.  It will take place on a cliff overlooking an ocean so tantalizingly blue that your heart will sigh, your knees will knock, and your soul will swoon into a satisfying sea of content.

I am inviting you to this picnic because the air outside is chilly and damp, the countryside is desolate and bleak, your skin is dry; your lips are chapped; and a relentless coldness has crept into your bones.

Mostly, I want to you to go on this picnic because it is winter, and you are tired of winter.  And because you are tired of being tired of winter. 

First, though, I must tell you what you are having for lunch.  I’m very proud that I was able to fit it all in an old-fashioned willow wicker basket equipped with long stemmed goblets, white ceramic plates, a perky plaid tablecloth, and enough room to hold a bottle of sparkling cider.  As well as food.  Lots of food.

You are going to be hungry when you get to your picnic, because you will have climbed to the top of a hill, and all along the way, you will be inhaling great gasps of sweetly salted ocean air. 

You will be very, very hungry. 

So much so that you will have two entrees: Crisp fried chicken – I adore cold chicken.  Don’t you? – And egg salad sandwiches.  I make egg salad with honey Dijon mustard and finely chopped celery. Then I spread it thickly on crusty slices of sour dough bread. 

Yum.

You will also pack (it’s a very large picnic basket!) sweet green grapes, huge handfuls of almonds, thinly sliced honey crisp apples, and a roasted pine nut humus dip. 

That’s your menu. 

The way you get to the picnic will be half the fun, because you’re driving a 1968 blue Chevrolet Camaro.  Or…No.  I just changed my mind.  You’ll take my all-time favorite classic car instead.  A 1955 Thunderbird convertible.  Bright red. 

The road stops on the other side of a covered bridge, so you won’t be able to drive all the way.  You’ll have to leave your car behind a row of red pine trees, and walk to the top of the cliff.   But don’t worry.  The path isn’t steep, and it’s less than a quarter-mile.   

The picnic basket will be heavy, but you can…

Oh.  Wait.  I almost forgot.  And this is the best part.  The Very Best Part, so don’t even think of trying to get out of it.  For you see, you aren’t going on this perfectly imagined picnic all alone.  Oh, no.  The man (or woman) of your dreams will be going with you … driving with you … hiking with you.  And after you have consumed the chicken, devoured the sandwiches, and swallowed the grapes, you will do what all of us do after we have eaten a large meal outside on a beautiful, balmy day. 

You will recline on a carpet of lush grass, feel the ocean-tanged breeze on your deliciously bare arms (how long has it been since you’ve worn a short sleeved shirt?), and replete with calories and drowsy from the sun, you will rest your head in the lap of the man or the woman that you love, and you will fall asleep.

Sigh.

It is cold.  It is winter.  It is February. 

But you don’t care, because you are going to a picnic. 

Here are the keys to the car.  Here is your wicker basket. 

Nice, huh? 

Okay, now. 

Go.  

 

Copyright © January, 2015, Shelly Reuben

Originally published in The Evening Sun, Norwich, NY - evesun.com Shelly Reuben’s books have been nominated for Edgar, Prometheus, and Falcon awards.  For more about her books, visit www.shellyreuben.com