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Pathway to Picnic Perfection

Friday July 20, 2018

Pathway to Picnic Perfection

 

Slow down and smell the roses.  

 

That's always good advice, but for people with Parkinson's, it has additional meaning. Slowing down is often, by necessity, part of our day. There is even a fancy medical term for it - bradykinesia. And here's another saying: when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Cobble these together and you come up with the subject of my post. When you have to slow down, take advantage of it.

 

 

Picnic! The word conjures up happy memories of al fresco noshing with friends and family. What better way to enjoy the glory of summer in the Pacific Northwest!

For the dedicated Urbanite, it can be simple as stopping by the closest grocery store to pick up prepared food and beverages, and finding a shady bench. There is also the more traditional picnic, which I favor. Picnic basket, iced tea, fried chicken, cloth napkins, old quilt for seating, etc.

I'd like to share my recipe for a picnic that is presented with Parkinson's in mind. Please note that this was not a solo venture. I had the company and assistance of two friends in getting to and from the picnic site, and setting it up.

 

A favorite place of mine for a picnic in Seattle is along the banks of the Ship Canal in Fremont. There is street parking next to the site, and the grassy area between the street and the Canal is mostly flat and relatively easy to navigate. There is shade, and a never ending view of the marine traffic on the Ship Canal. Tugs push huge barges piled high with gravel. Kayakers bob in the wake of luxury boats gliding by. Ducks and swans squawk and posture for scraps. Moms wheel babies in elaborate buggies up and down the Burke Gilman Trail, which meanders along the Canal. In the guise of watching life go by, entertainment is abundant.

 

I am a traditionalist when it comes to rituals like The Picnic. Wicker basket, potato salad, marinated olives, so on and so forth. I like to use real dishes when possible. I've found that simple, pressed glass salad/dessert plates are not too heavy, sturdier than they look, and can be found inexpensively at Good Will.

Here's a list of some of the non-food things I have found helpful: 

  • A small wooden serving tray gives you a stable surface for drink ware and serving
  • Serving utensils
  • Cutting board and knife
  • Salt & pepper
  • Hand sanitizer
  • A paper bag for trash
  • Winning lottery ticket

 

Hey.  Wait a minute...

 

 

And now the best part - the food! With apologies to my vegetarian/vegan friends, I stand firm that for me, fried or baked chicken is mandatory. TIP: when cooking your own chicken, it is helpful to check your flour for weevils the day before you start preparation. You'll need time to run to the store to get more flour.  

Choose food that is simple to transport and easy to eat. Cole slaw, potato salad, cut raw veggies, cheese and crackers, as well as fruit like apples, plums, and watermelon are good choices. Tomato soup, ice cream, and beef stew are not.

 

An old, well worn quilt is another component of the Picnic Experience. Mine looks like it was made by Aunt Linda. In reality, it is yet another Good Will bargain (are you starting to see a pattern here?). It should be big enough to accommodate those who like to stretch out for a little nap post-picnic. TIP: a yoga mat is an excellent way to add a little extra padding. Just put it down on the grass, and layer the quilt over it. Ability to perform the cat/cow yoga position is not required.  

I am not a fan of synthetic fabrics, and find them sticky and/or hot. Cotton or other natural fabrics are preferred. For those of you who find it difficult to get up and down, it may be preferable to use a comfortable folding/camp chair

 

And there you have it. With some pre-planning as to accessibility, you can find a pleasant, shady place to spread out your quilt, heap your plate with yummy fare, and enjoy.  

 

Roses not required.   

 

- Terry Harrigan

Preparer of Picnics

 

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