It really feels like summer has arrived when we have the first picnic of the season. Around here picnics are nothing fancy. We pick up whatever we have and head to the pond.
Yesterday was a beautiful day. It was sunny and cool, but not too cool. We packed a cooler in the back of the Gator, then, negotiated the herd of sheep to get to the pond. The sheep were delighted to have some playmates for a while. A couple of the dogs accompanied us on our adventure. The baby lambs are so cute. They stay rather close to their mothers but they hop and play with each other as well.
My son got the campfire going. We did not need a fire for heat, but we did need one to cook the hot dogs over. As soon as everyone arrived we started roasting the hot dogs on the camping sticks. The boys volunteered to cook them so we slipped two or three on each set of prongs and they were in business.
After we ate the boys disappeared into the camper. They were playing with some cards. Finally, the fishing poles came out. The children fish, then throw them back. While I was checking out the pond I saw a rather large fish swim by. I asked my son if they had trout in the pond and he said they did but they had not seen any. I think I saw a large trout but I am not sure. Once the poles came out the trout did not show up again.
They caught perch, bass and another variety that I am not sure about. One of the boys was using a brand new pole that he got for Christmas. He broke his pole at the pond last year so he needed a new one. It must have been beginner's luck, because he just kept pulling them in. At first I sat by the fire watching. From that vantage point I could see the pole dip when he had something. Later I moved over to where the action was. He picked out more than 30 fish as he fished off the dock. Needless to say he was very happy. The other two did not do as well. That is just how it goes when you go fishing. Some fishermen catch something and some do not.
Near the end of the season last year we caught fish to eat. My son taught my granddaughter how to filet the fish. They fished, then cleaned them. We fried them in one of the cast iron pans. We all were surprised how good they tasted.
We heard the bullfrogs for the first time. There is no denying that low rumble that they make. I remember last year the first night we camped down there I could not get to sleep because of the bullfrogs. After a while they are like anything else, you get used to them.
People laugh when we say we camp by the pond. Although it is what some would refer to as a stone's throw from the buildings, it is a way to get away from the telephone and people who would interrupt our family outings. We do not take electronics. We love it down there. The atmosphere would cost a pretty penny if we had to drive hundreds of miles to get there, but it is ready anytime just for a short ride or walk.
What I like best about the pond is the tranquility that you feel down there. The water barely ripples. It is relaxing even if we have to cook meals. Food cooked over an open fire tastes so good. Of course, I baked the cowboy cookies before I left home.
The pond is a place where I miss my husband. I know he would have loved it as much as I do. We used to have campfires all the time, but we did not have the pond while he was around.
We all know that during the summer you keep a lot of food that goes together quickly so that you are ready at the drop of a hat for an impromptu picnic. Sometimes we go with strictly finger foods so that we do not have to haul plates and utensils. Sometimes we have some rather gourmet meals grilling salmon, steaks and hamburgers, as well as potatoes and corn. Raw veggies and fruit is another option. Everyone loves those.
Cast iron is the way to go. You can cook on cast iron anywhere. One of my favorite pans is made of cast iron. My mother used it to cook chicken mostly, but she also cooked other meat as well. The best part about this pan is its depth. It has sides that stand more than two inches high. I also have some smaller cast iron pans. Those I use when I make pizza. They allow me to customize the pizzas so that everyone gets it the way they like it best.
Last year for my son's birthday he asked for a grill that mounts over the fire. I found one at a camping supplier. During the winter he fixed it up to do what he wants it to do. We will initiate that another time this summer I am sure.
We plan camp on the first nice weekend. Plans are for a lot of camping this summer. Hope Mother Nature cooperates
With the Gator and the 4-wheeler we do not even have to walk to get there. We load up the supplies and start out. One person has to be ready to jump off the equipment to open the gates.
Last night it was getting chilly before we called it quits. I just had a short-sleeved shirt and I was cold by the time we got back to the house. I came straight home and made myself a cup of raspberry tea. It warmed me right up.
These are the times I live for. A day at the pond is better than any other outing we might plan - and we do not have to go anywhere!
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa.