A Year of Picnics


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Ladies Of the Forest

Have you ever sat in the middle of a forest floor, on a vintage tablecloth, sipping rhubarb & spearmint proseco, nibbling on fried sage leaves with parmesan and 5-spice pickled cherries and smoked trout with watercress and goat cheese with violet jelly and pea pesto sandwiches and rosemary skewed meatballs, while in the illustrious company of women covering a broad spectrum of age groups? No, you say? You haven’t sat close enough to wild turkeys to hear them calling out *right* beside you as you cast your gaze upon pink and white wild lady slipper orchids? Pity. Neither had I, until this past Thursday, that is.

The riot of culinary and green thumb talent that is Barbara Swell invited me to what she dubbed a “Ladies Ladyslipper Boozy Tea Party” in the woods surrounding her home. Myself and several other women each brought an item from our garden or pantry (I brought the pickled cherries mentioned above and a jar of my “Moroccan Road Pickled Okra”, the recipe for which will be in “Handmade Gatherings”), while Barbara whipped up lovely libations and victuals (the fried sage leaves and meatballs were both her offerings).

Food, drinks, and picnic basket in hand, we made our way to the forest. Barbara is the queen of vintage and retro collectibles and toted our wares in a metal picnic basket. Once we reached our destination, she spread vintage tablecloths and presented us with vintage paper napkins once belonging to her aunt. Conversation and bubbly flowed. We chatted about topics ranging from fairies (of the forest persuasion), to Argentinian Tango (an instructor was in attendance and had a war wound on the top of her foot), to the ethics of wild food cultivation, to asking poison ivy to only grow where you’d like it to grow (which apparently works, at least, in my circles). Parting gifts from a fellow attendee included Jack of the Pulpit or Solomon’s Seal plants.

It was, without question, one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. Truly. We toasted to the ephemeral beauties of spring and to friendship and to connection and soil. The turkeys called to us, and we in turn to them (if we ever share a bit to drink, ask me to let loose my turkey call; I’ve been perfecting it for some time and, according to my boozy ladyslipper compatriots, I do a mean impersonation). It was a perfect homage to spring and all that is fleeting and lovely. I’m grateful beyond measure to get to call this lovely patch of Earth my home, and to delight in the company of short-lived yet graceful wild orchids and strong, creative, vivacious women.

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