I admit that I’m not much of a cold-weather person. A few weeks ago we went on a short family holiday to Burra. The little cottage was cute, the antique-filled tea-shops quaint, and the creek had plenty of ducks willing to be fed by Lily. But it was bitterly COLD, and for me this really was a barrier to relaxation.
Picnics are one of my very favourite activities, and I really wanted our holiday to feature at least one. I have happy memories of Jeremy and I preparing and enjoying picnics together in the early stages of our relationship: lazing on a rug in the dappled sunshine, the warm air sweet with the scent of blossoms and buzzing with the languid murmur of bees. Bliss! Of course picnics are not quite the same with two-year-olds, but I still imagined the three of us relaxing in a pretty, sunny little glen – preferably hidden from the world by rows of majestic pine trees (Lily is big on Woods at the moment, probably because they feature so frequently in children’s stories).
On our second morning in Burra, I packed a picnic: Barossa Valley sour dough, Maggie Beer Pate (a vegetarian version perfectly befitting my pregnant state and Jeremy’s dislike of animal innards), Jarlsberg cheese, tomatoes, rocket, strawberry jam for Lily. The rather muddy local park with the creek, ducks and playground had to suffice as a picnic spot, as the Woods or even grassy hillside proved elusive. I was determined that this was going to be a lovely family holiday moment, despite the fairly mundane setting and distinct chill in the air. Lily had not slept well in the unfamiliar room– another challenge of holidaying with a toddler, I had discovered – and was grumpy and uncooperative. Jeremy battled to keep the cold and tantrums at bay by galloping with her around the playground.
Meanwhile, with nose streaming, fingers numb and ears burning from the wind, I resolutely set about preparing our picnic fare. Surely, I reasoned, warmth can be a state of mind? I imagined we would snuggle together, and buoyed by delicious food and holiday spirit, the picnic would be a success.
But then an almighty wind whipped up from the creek, damp and icy. Strands of hair wrapped around my face, adhering to my sticky nostrils. The rocket blew off the bread and was immediately pounced upon by the pack of ever-ready ducks. Enough was enough. It was time to face the reality (or at least my reality) that a picnic without warmth was not a picnic I wanted. I hastily swathed our sandwiches in paper towel, shoved everything into the bag and announced that we were going home.
Fifteen minutes later we were back within the sturdy stone walls of our cosy miner’s cottage, enjoying our belated lunch. What a relief it was to no longer brace against the cold or grit my teeth into the wind. It was there, huddled by the flickering open fire that I finally felt my body unwind. Perhaps warmth is not all a state of mind, after all.