Humanity is Longing For a Picnic

by Mary Bauer - Date: 2006-12-16 - Word Count: 513 Share This!

This summer a couple of friends and I ate at a small hobby farm turned part-time restaurant located in the way-out boonies. They make pizza and bread in a brick oven and that's all-pizza and bread. They are wildly popular. Their hours of operation are Tuesday evenings only and it's BYO everything: beverages, tables, chairs, plates, utensils. They don't advertise and there's no sign pointing the way. It's all word of mouth and you pretty much have to know where you're going to find the place.

We had never been there before and when we arrived found ourselves grossly underdressed. There were at least two hundred people in attendance (a slow night, they said) who looked like they were dressed for a garden wedding-we wore cutoffs and t-shirts. People sat at tables with their crystal wine decanters, fine china, fresh floral centerpieces, and tablecloths; again, all items the people themselves hauled in-we brought beer in cans.

The people came from all walks of life: doctors, lawyers, CEOs, the retired, and the kids. They set up on a roughly mowed lawn-a clearing, really-with overgrown evergreens and rundown buildings for a backdrop. There were no facilities of any kind, no garbage cans, no televisions, no video games, and absolutely no wait staff. There were no signs telling you where to park, where to sit, what to do, or who would get their pizza next.

On the plus side, there were no loud peals of drunken laughter, no brawling, or arguing, or misconduct of any kind. People were not stressed out; the mood was peaceful, calm, joyful.

It was a celebration like no other I had ever been to. It reminded me of one of those Victorian picnics you read about in the classics-a pink-lemonade-and-white-sugar-cookie-type of event. After the meal everyone hung out and played dice games, or moved leisurely from table to table and just visited. I thought I had walked into an alternate universe.

As dusk approached, without any prompt from anyone, people said their goodbyes and left. Not in mass exodus, but quietly, almost without notice. One by one, people simply packed up their stuff. They took with them all that they had brought without complaint, and drove away.

We were the last ones to leave. It was the time of the evening when it's no longer dusk, but not full darkness either--that illusive magic moment when even the shadows disappear. I looked around me at the clearing. There was nothing left now but the memory of the evening, and the certainty that the following Tuesday would pack 'em in just the same.

The success of the pizza farm is undeniable, but what makes it so popular? The pizza is good, but I've had good pizza elsewhere. I can think of only one explanation: Whether people realize it or not, they are longing for a gentler experience and a truer sense of communion with one another. A simple meal shared in the great outdoors does seem to nourish our innate hunger.

Copyright Mary M. Bauer. You are free to use this article in part or full provided you include the bio.

Related Tags: success, summer, outdoors, magic, victorian, farm, picnic, humanity, pizza, communion, innate

Mary M. Bauer is the author of five books, including The Truth About You: Things You Don't Know You Know (VanderWyk & Burnham, 2006). Visit

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