Guest post by Tina Dawson, Love Is In My Tummy
Food tastes infinitely better when eaten outdoors. There's something about the primal nature of dining under a canopy of green, surrounded by the calming sounds of water nearby and birds chirping in the wind while critters of all shapes and sizes scurry and slither about. You find that you can even almost smell sunshine in the woods, for the rawness of the experience amplifies the senses and awakens a part of you that is normally dormant. Out there, you are more alive than you'll ever be.
To me, being outdoors is a religious experience; being in the heart of nature brings to focus the circle of life, and something as simple as biting into a fruit is now making me a part of the inner workings of nature itself.
So I find myself packing up some food and heading out for a day every now and then, to explore someplace new, find a spot that calls out to me and pitch myself there for the day, to either read a book or simply enjoy the beauty around me and hope to find a little more of myself in the process. After every journey, I am more me.
This weekend, I found myself at Lake Lanier - a place of many intrigues - with a backpack cooler full of Georgia's famous peach cider, Bombay sandwiches, and Sunshine soup to lunch on. Since I planned to spend the entire day basking in the cool shade by the turquoise waters, I snuck in some spicy roasted chickpeas, strawberries, dates, almonds, and another Georgia favorite: fried peach pie to snack on.
The deceptively small cooler managed to fit all this food in its cold embrace, lined with an ice pack, leaving my hands free to carry a few comforts from home - blankets and pillows to lounge in comfort, plates and napkins to prevent my innate clumsiness from ruining said blankets and pillows. I also tucked in a book in the side pocket to read in solitude, in case my traveling companion (my husband) fell asleep (which he usually does). Sometimes, depending on the type of food I carry, I also tuck in a small chopping board and knife in the front and side pockets to chop foraged herbs I find on the trip.
Menu: Bombay Sandwiches (filled with a mint+coriander chutney spread, cucumber, tomato, boiled potatoes and a dash of chaat masala), Sunshine Soup (roasted bell pepper, corn, saffron garnished with spring onions), crispy baked spiced chickpeas, dates, almonds, strawberries, peach cider and Fried peach pie.
And when I return back home to the fast paced normalcy that is life, I cannot help but hold on to some of the rawness I experienced outside. To me, the metaphorical ‘stop and smell the roses’, comes in the form of working the soil in my new garden, learning that what I thought was a weed is in fact medicinal, or that deliberately slow cup of evening tea out on the deck in the middle of a busy day that gives me a chance to sneak reading a page or two of that book I started but never finished. Stealing yourself away, even for a tiny part of the day, puts the quintessential human experience into perspective. I crave that feeling every day–and with every trip I take, it’s what I chase.