The basket must contain pretty china plates ( bought at a garage sale is perfect!) , nice silverware (ditto, the garage sale) a good cutting board, corkscrew, nice wine glasses (no, they don’t have to match) a sharp knife, serving spoons, tablecloth and napkins (cloth) and wetwipes of some sort. I recommend a large floppy hat, plenty of sunscreen, your camera, and a totally relaxed attitude.

The next level of picnic baskets is the less formal type. I advise keeping this one close at hand. Toss the winter gear out of your car and keep this all-purpose basket with you at all times. Spontaneous opportunities for picnicking may break out at any time, and being prepared makes it happen! For this picnic basket, sturdy paper plates are allowed, though I do advise using easy washable plastic plates rather than adding to the waste with more paper. Do not succumb to buying the foam plates. I know, I know- they’re strong, they’re cheap- but they’ll stay in the landfills until dinosaur’s come back to earth to roam. If you use plastic utensils, take it home, wash it for another picnic. Cups? Paper, Please! Don’t forget a tablecloth , even if it is an old one with stains, and napkins ( wash cloths are good here). Civility must be maintained. Hand sanitizer or wetwipes, a cutting board and knives. We use our Thermos year round- winter picnics always require hot soup and hot tea, and summer picnics are much better with lemonade or water from the refrigerator. I have a deep dislike for beverages in disposable bottles. So unnecessary, so wasteful.

Third type of picnic gear? Hiking or biking requires the lightest weight that you can manage. I have a mesh soft pack that holds plenty of food for the two of us; no need for much except the food- wrap your sandwich in a moist paper towel and it will stay fresh longer. As if you can wait long before eating every last crumb- food always tastes better when eaten outside! Plenty of water ( I know that you have healthy metal water containers!) and of course, cookies. Can’t have a picnic without cookies.

I hear you wondering- what about the rest of the food? Fear not, I am here to offer assistance. First of all, begin by planning dessert. I don’t know why, but this always works. Cookies, cakes and pies are the all American favorites. Oddly enough, they can all be found at the Hoquiam Farmers Market! Nancy is making both Raspberry Rhubarb Pie plus Strawberry Rhubarb Pie this week, in addition to her other superb pies, such as Apple and Little Wild Blackberry. The tables are always laden with packages of cookies. Thank goodness.

What else? Eggs, of course. Lots of eggs, ‘cause you’re going to need them for both deviled eggs and potato salad. Our incredible fresh eggs are harder to peel than the aged ones found in grocery stores, but the lovely taste makes up for some chunks of white missing.
You also need our fresh baked bread for making sandwiches, unless you call in a sandwich order to Deidra for one of her ultra-delicious sandwiches. How easy is that? One more thing- local fresh smoked fish from Lytle’s and Anthony’s Pepperoni make the finest picnic nibbles that you can buy!

Where do you plan on going to picnic this weekend? Memorial Day is the traditional time to visit our loved ones in the cemetery, clean the headstones and place fresh flowers on the graves. Joe and I both have family in the Vader cemetery, and find it to be a lovely place to picnic. Our azaleas and rhododendrons make lavish flower offerings, and the Farmers Market has Iris and Peonies , and for the first time- Calla Lilies! All from local farmers, of course.

Barbara Bennett Parsons, writing to you from Picnic Headquarters- the Hoquiam Farmers Market! Located at 1958 Riverside, open Wed. Thru Sun.- Deidra’s Deli is open daily! 538-9747