I’m the girl walking through town with a book in her arm and a camera around her neck. When I’m reading a book (the hours we spend in bed together is almost akin to dating), I translate the words into pictures, patterns, and designs, and the activity inspires some of my most creative thinking. I’ll be contemplating the words as the author intended them, but against my own background, experiences, and hyperbolic mind, I often envision a story all my own.
I’ve read a great number of books in which a young person is mentored by an older guide. These mentors are always filled with wisdom, and just eager to find a student that they can fill with their knowledge of history, people, and ‘the way things were.’ That said, I’ve always thought that it would be great to have one of these encounters on my own – maybe I would help a woman cross the street and then she would tell me all about how she fought for women’s rights. Or maybe I would sit next to an older man on a bus, and he would tell me stories about Vietnam. I’ve got a quarter century behind me, 26 good years, but I’m yet to have one of these mysterious encounters that are so prevalent in novels.
And so, I planned a rah rah rah experiment that would make a stranger happy by planning a picnic for them. And yes, I was secretly thinking that I would end up hearing tales of yonder all night.
To set the scene: I packed a basket with three turkey bacon wraps, a few bags of popcorn, and some pepsi-cola. I took that basket to the park, and then I proceeded to scan the area for strangers that might want to have lunch with me. The first woman I approached appeared to be about 70, and she was reading a novel under a shady tree. Perhaps she was reading a novel about an elderly woman who mentors a young girl, and wishing someone would approach her with a picnic lunch. Something told me we might be the perfect match for one another.
I approached the woman and told her about my project, and then invited her to have lunch with me. she smile gracefully, and then explained that her food allergies made eating with a stranger impossible. Well fine, fair enough. I had expected that preparing a meal for a stranger would have some trials (Jon is allergic to seafood, peanuts, zucchini, and squash, and he refuses to eat fruit or vegetables. You could say I know a thing or two about being picky eaters).
But I wouldn’t be defeated. I approached a young couple holding hands on a bench, and explained my project. Free food? They asked. I smiled, showed them the contents of the bag, and then plopped down between them. Suddenly date crashing seemed much more fun than learning about women’s rights and Vietnam. And so, I spent the next hour hearing about how they had met at the park 2 months ago, and spent every day together since. He was at college in Duleuth, and she was a senior in high school two hours south. They were planning to make it work.
It was incredibly happy to share a meal with them and listen to the story of their summer romance. And as for them, they seemed pretty amped-up about the free food. Happiness all around.
The amazing photographer Joy Lengyel made this picnic look like a photoshoot for Martha Stewart, right? Check out her work, and maybe send her a sweet note (why not?)
Oh, and good news: Jessica Gerke won the scarf give-away from AllThingsAccessories. Jessica, take a look at the shop, choose a scarf (teal and red retro bird, pink chevron, yellow and grey flower, or blue bird) and send me your address. Congratulations!