Will and I shared a peaceful afternoon together picnicking along the edge of the lake as Granbee and Papa played with the little Piper back home. We packed two bags filled with lunch and dessert (generously supplied by said grandparents), one of our favorite picnic quilts, plenty of water, and a camera. We spread our blanket beside a pavilion along a rocky part of the shoreline where coots, ducks, and swans all congregated. With time lavished before us, we took a few deep breaths and leaned on one another for a good while, staring into the choppy water. Then, eager for a bite to eat, I reached into our bag of vittles. Granbee and Papa brought multiple cartons of salads and mixed grain meals from their Whole Foods; all together we nibbled from cold sesame noodles and mixed greens, quinoa and Ethiopian chickpea stew, a very aromatic dish of brown rice and lentils, garlicky kale salad with tahini dressing, and a Thai curry with tofu and zucchini. We chatted and ate, and we enjoyed the quiet between bites. Our diverse spread seemed like a taste of the world, particularly the Ethiopian stew and the brown rice and lentils. I told Will the latter reminded me of a store we like called Kathmandu. Somehow the flavor matched just how the shop smells when we first walk in, as though someone scraped down an incense stick into the pot to spice things up (though of course it’s really a strong masala of sorts). Full, we rested on our backs and looked up into the trees above us, our own Floridian Joel Barish and Clementine Kruczynski moment (see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind).
On our way from one lake to yet another for dessert, we stopped halfway to walk through the local gardens. It was upon entering that flowering space that I began to feel truly dreamy. Flowers of all colors bordered the paths. We entered an enclave with a trickling waterfall, some vining air plants, and a small pond with lily-pads and flowers in bloom. Continuing our walk, we met up with a groundskeeper who generously allowed us to sample the fruit of a blackberry jam plant. He cut open the firm shell and we daubed our fingers inside each inky semicircle; indeed, the fruit looked and tasted just like blackberry jam. The experience was all very much like a scene from Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.
As our walk in the gardens neared its end, we stopped to peer into a Koi pond and listen to the towering bamboo clack together in the wind. (Once, on our honeymoon, Will and I walked through a bamboo forest in Floyd, Virginia. That, too, was a dreamy place with hills and creeks with huge rocks made smooth by running water.) Finally, upon our exit we noticed etchings on the bark of some other reedy plant — not bamboo as far as I know, though it certainly shared similarities.
We shared a petite carrot cake, somewhere between muffin and cupcake sized, while leaned against a concrete wall looking out across the lake toward downtown. How different and good it felt to spend time just the two of us for those few hours. We returned home refreshed and eager to embrace our little girl. She glowed, happy and still a bit revved up from a busy and exciting day with Granbee and Papa.