Winter picnic

By Vita Forest

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Today we had a winter picnic.

The place: Wendy Whiteley’s garden, Lavender Bay.

The Participants: Sui Sui and Allesandro, Saskia and Laura, Lucy and I.

And Rowdy the 5th (dog explorer).

The food: Baba ganoush, cauliflower and hummus dips with breads and vegies

Mini quiches with bacon and parmesan, caramelised onion and cherry tomatoes, pumpkin and fetta.

A crisp crunchy salad with celery and apple.

Homemade cupcakes with raspberry icing and Florentines.

Tea applied generously from two thermoses.

Though the forecast insisted on rain, the winter sun shone brightly, warming our backs as we lounged on the picnic rugs. Rowdy explored the circle allowed by his lead attached to a metal stake driven into the ground. We sat above the garden on a flat stretch of lawn, watching the boats drift by below, and hearing the occasional screams from Luna Park.

We talked books, travel and movies. Laura and Lucy cartwheeled around us. Rowdy barked at dogs moseying by, until an unleashed poodle caused so much excitement, he tore his stake from the ground and raced after it. The girls chased Rowdy up and down the grass, as the poodle’s owner tried unsuccessfully to retrieve a foil cupcake case it had swiped.

Sui Sui made tea, adding milk from a small china jug wrapped in cling wrap that had travelled there inside a lunch box. Laura did a handstand against her Mum’s back, then she and Lucy did them either side of the thick rough trunk of a palm tree.

We swapped and returned books. Bibliophiles all. We planned future reading, we rated recent movies, we laughed. We packed up the picnic and descended into the garden, exploring the narrow paths winding back and forth along the terraces on the hill, holding onto curving balustrades made from fallen branches and climbing steep steps of stone.   We crushed spears of lavender between our fingers. We ran our hands over smooth tree trunks, and a polished granite bust that Laura thought might be useful for practising kissing.

The girls wanted a game of Hide and seek. We chatted for a count of fifty then set off along the paths. Laura was discovered but where was Lucy? We called and called, crisscrossing up and down. I imagined her laughing at us, stealthily sneaking along behind the squawking adults.

“Lucy! Lucy!”

Eventually she was found on the far edge of the garden, having discovered a vegetable plot, containing some plants with usefully large leaves. As we left the garden, Saskia looked up and saw the creator on her balcony.

“Thank you Wendy!” she called.

Wendy waved back.

We walked through the tunnel to the bay. Rowdy raced up and down, the girls disappeared up a fig tree. We stood by the water and talked jazz and road trips and Allesandro’s special diner in Bowral.

Next time, we think we’ll bring some wine.

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