Perfect picnicking in paradise

The idea for writing on picnic possibilities, Kauai-style, was born of a recent picnic with North Shore friends whom we’d missed connecting with for some time. A rendezvous at Anini Beach Park was agreed upon. They greeted us at the picnic shelter under spreading kamani trees, shaking drops from hair and toweling dry from their swim in truly turquoise waters. It was a perfect November day that seemed “like summertime.”

Out came my husband’s small gas grill and all the shared goodies spread ready on the rooster-patterned tablecloth: chicken-and-apple sausages to sizzle while we caught up on each other’s news, then wolf down with accompanying ulu and broccoli salads, and my friend’s home-made guava catsup (yes, guava!). Topping this off were fresh Wainiha limes and star fruit juices to wash down the coconut-chocolate mochi.

Such a great visit in a postcard setting — no muss, no excess of fuss — and such satisfying fare. That will be another “glimmer picnic” to store in my memory bank.

Picnic. That’s a snappy, crisp, no-nonsense word. For me and I’m hoping many other people, it implies getting into nature, satisfying hunger with tasty, no-nonsense food brought along for that purpose (picnic basket!) while enjoying family and friends during outdoor, casual feasting, as well as the scene at hand. Kauai has no dearth of picnic spots, from parks and beaches, rivers and reservoirs, to shady nooks off trails and byways. Let’s not forget our own back yards, where the main fare comes right off the grill and there’s no getting behind the wheel to go anywhere.

The main idea for adults is to take advantage of cut-away time, decide on the picnicking place and goodies, leave W&W (work & worries) behind. Enjoy & Relax (also with capital letters). Hold to this formula whether you’re snatching a half-hour lunchtime for yourself with the smell of salty air and a view of the ocean waves beyond your windshield (Ahukini breakwall? Kapaa Beach Park or Waimea pier?), settling at a picnic table in the Kokee meadow for a relaxed afternoon of family fun and games, resting with a pocket picnic in the shade after a strenuous round of hiking or biking, or hanging loose (total E&R) on the lanai.

The main idea for kids (if I remember right), is having quality time with mom and dad beyond routine and structured days, some freedom to roam, explore and fool around, find neat stuff, and take advantage of all edibles provided. Swimming and splashing are on this list if you’re beside a stream or at the beach. At the least, your pursuits should get you grass-stained and/or muddy or sandy.

There are numerous variations, depending on individual preferences, available free time, and occasion. I’m convinced I could learn much from the great picnicking experiences of Green Flash readers, not only about favorite locations and leisure pursuits, but foods and recipes, and any special tricks to save time and increase the enjoyment factor they (you) may have up your collective sleeve. Then, too, there are people who take exception to these suggestions, who feel a plan to picnic translates to slaving beforehand to fry mounds of chicken and make tons of potato-macaroni salad or piles of sandwiches. “Picnic” might also imply an army of ants and bugs, sand in the food, the possibility of getting swamped or drenched, or having to sit on a hard bench, or a root or rock beneath a picnic spread.

Just as they say chicks or ducklings become imprinted by their parents or humans who fulfill such a role, I became imprinted with the positive idea of picnicking by my parents. My spirits lifted on Picnic Days. As a youngster, a picnic meant good times and good things in store and, almost always, an adventure of sorts. Songs and stories were woven through such occasions as well as fun and games. The drive from Mandalay, Burma, where we lived then, to my parents’ old haunts surrounding Maymyo, in the hills, was almost exactly the change in altitude, flora and fauna, and distance as the drive from Wailua to Kokee — and even the same latitude!

The love and bonding that flowed between my English mum and Scottish dad on their days off, and to me and my sister, was invaluable. Mum and Dad had so enjoyed their picnicking days in the wild while growing up in Burma during British times. For my parents, a nap after the meal was standard. This gave my big sister and me exploration time and a special sense of freedom, and connection, because they took us back to revisit the favorite forests and dells of their childhood. The food we shared was simple but good, and of secondary importance. A big thermos of hot tea, English-style sweetened with sugar and cream, was unstoppered after the nap. We girls liked getting in on that, too, dunking the accompanying “biscuits” (cookies).

As for today on Kauai, we plan to picnic again — potluck, this time. Joining with ohana that often converges at full-moon times, this evening we’ll focus on gazing at the super moon from a favorite Eastside vantage point. We feel lucky, fully grateful to be here to see this luminous, twice-in-our-lifetimes sky event.

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Dawn Fraser Kawahara, author and poet, is completing her second memoir, based on a worldwide quest to uncover family information relating to India and Burma of pre- and post-World War II times. The writer, dba Dawn Enterprises, runs her related businesses — TropicBird Press and TropicBird Weddings & Celebrations-Kauai — at kauaiweddingsandbooks.com. In January watch for the launch of her monthly travel column in TGI, “Faraway Places.”

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