IT was the perfect start to the perfect picnic… Sitting on an upturned log, watching the financial pages catch alight.
Little pieces of taxation talk and gross domestic product news were reduced to ash confetti and gently tossed up on the wind, dancing like dandelion spores.
It was a celebration, after all. Of friendships and fresh air, scarves, beanies and butane burners.
Three cheers for the $19.95 butane burner! Who knew a little hotplate in a box could be so liberating?
We were on our way to a winter picnic when one of us stopped at Anaconda to invest in said burner, “just in case”.
He knew there’d be tears if the wood was too wet or green and we couldn’t light a fire to cook lunch or boil some tea.
He knew there’d be sulking if all we had was bread and water.
We’d never been to the Harcourt oak forest before, but for a while now I’d heard tales about a lovely, leafy playground, fit for a band of merry men, women and children.
There we found a wonderland of fat-trunked oaks with buttery soft leaves clinging precariously to haunting black branches.
The thin winter sun slipped through the canopy, while below the earth was thick with soft fall, just begging to be stomped through.
The place isn’t sign posted.
You’ve got to hang a lefty in Harcourt, go past the servo and over an intersection where the road turns to gravel.
Take the second left and you’re delivered straight into the oak forest.
You can’t beat a winter picnic, for it feels like a proper adventure.
A summer picnic makes sense. It’s all frolicking and tartan rugs, but choosing to spend an entire day out in the elements in winter is truly balmy.
Think the flappity flap of raincoats, thermos steam and chilled cheeks.
You get to nurture a little fire for the day. Such a simple pleasure, so underrated.
“I’m just stoking the fire,” I sometimes say at home, as I lightly touch the “up” button on
the central heating control. It’s a poor substitute.
There’s something lovely about building your own fire; building it up from paper and twigs, building the coals to boil a kettle.
And then there’s my new love, the butane burner…
Now that one has come into our lives I’ve set us a goal; we’re going to cook a sausage somewhere new every other weekend.
Think Melville Caves, Mount Alexander, Lake Eppalock and Heathcote’s Valley of the Liquid Ambers… all these places will see a bit of sausage sizzling action from us this winter.
And where we can, we’ll light a little fire.
It’s the way to make a grey day golden. It’s the sort of day that money can’t buy really.