Backyard Discovery Blog

Stories Around the Picnic Table

As we march through Spring, and snow drifts and icicles become a more distant memory, the lure of the outdoors beckons. We’ve already opened our windows and enjoyed breathing fresh air again. We have banished our Winter woollies to the closets and unearthed our T-shirts and shorts.

The kids already venture out onto the swing set on a daily basis. It may not yet be time to splish and splash in the swimming pool (unless you are lucky to enjoy the warmth of Florida), but it feels that it is about time to spend some of those lengthening evenings out around the picnic table.

Why should it only be the kids who get to enjoy time outdoors? Just because we grow up, and get to the point where we look somewhat silly playing on the swing set, does not mean that we have to forgo healthy, fun activities in our backyards.

I have set my backyard up to be a place of enjoyment. What was once a weed-infested wilderness is now a haven of peace and tranquility - well except for when the kids scream as they fly down the slide on their swing set.

I built a patio area where we have our barbecues. I decided this was a perfect place to position a picnic table. Who wants to be a lonely chef, when I can share the good times with my friends and family.

To me, the picnic table is more than just a place to place the sausages and steak. It is the center of our social hub. It is where we can come to relax. It is where we can have a friendly beer or wine. It is where we can solve the problems of the world, and then promptly forget our magnificent solutions.

We do have more than just a barbecue and picnic table in our backyard, of course. Obviously, we have Liam’s Oceanview Swing Set, about which I have previously. We have positioned the picnic table in such a way that we can use it as our place of supervision, whenever Liam and his friends are enjoying themselves on the swing set. We do believe in actively supervising the kids, without being too overbearing, trying to follow my own advice from Join Your Kids in Their Wooden Playground.

I also still have a reminder of my youthful days before the middle-aged spread took hold, in the form of a basketball hoop, where I can take a few shots, with (most) of them coming somewhere near the mark. Liam’s still too small to successfully master this art, but hopefully, it won’t be too longer before he’s able to lay up more hoops than his old man does.

But the picnic table is the centerpiece. It doesn’t have the pizazz of the swing set, the sizzle of the barbecue, or the fun of the basketball hoop, but it is the focal point of our outdoor social life. If only that picnic table could speak. The tales it could tell.

It was on a particularly beautiful Spring evening, where I believe I had outdone myself with my barbecue chefmanship, that I struck up the courage to propose while standing beside that picnic table. I was so relieved when my wife-to-be said yes, and I do believe it was not simply because she liked my cooking.

I first learned that there was going to be a little Liam while seated at that picnic table. I vividly remember that night, with the smoke of the barbecue still wafting around me, when my wife gave her big announcement, starting with “Darling, do you remember the night of the Roger Waters concert. Well …”

That picnic table was always a favorite place for my dad, whose passion for fishing eclipsed virtually everything else in his life, to tell us his “tall tales,” of giant fish that fought magnificent battles. We devoured many of these fish at this picnic table.

Alas, the picnic table was also where I was when I received a phone call from Dad, announcing that he had been diagnosed with what he called the “Big C.” We still had four further months to build up his memories around the picnic table. He insisted that we have as many happy moments during that time as possible, and our backyard was obviously going to be central to them.

There have also been many happy memories in our backyard over the last few years with our friends. Good food. Good conversation. Good times. Who needs FaceBook to communicate with friends when you can do it in person in a fun, relaxed setting.

I am so glad that I invested in that picnic table, along with the other key components of my backyard. I have many happy memories spent there, and hopefully, there will still be many enjoyable moments yet to come.

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