Fall Date Idea: Picnic in the Park

I’ve always wanted to go for a fall picnic. I love the idea of cozying up in a warm fall outfit and packing up a delicious lunch, complete with thermoses full of mulled wine and plenty of freshly picked apples. It just sounds so romantic, so relaxing — so ME!

So, while we were in VT last weekend, I finally went on my fall picnic. We didn’t have the mulled wine, and we stopped at the Vermont Country Deli for our sandwiches, chips, and dessert to save some time on prep, but one day I would love to make a picnic menu from scratch, with all the fixings. Even if our picnic wasn’t ‘perfect,’ we still managed to create a beautiful spread and enjoy each other’s company, which is all that really matters!

Look at these colors!

We found a big, empty park down the road from the deli. Seriously — hardly anyone was there (apart from one guy who was racing a remote controlled car at the top of a nearby hill). Passing by an empty baseball field, we set our sights on a grove of trees that lined the edge of the park. It was the perfect spot to lay down our picnic blanket.

We laid out our blanket and unpacked our picnic basket, which included red wine, apples, grapes, sandwiches, apple pie, and something called a chocolate bomb (I admit that I tried to make it look Pinterest-worthy while Matt just wanted to start eating). As we settled down on the blanket and started digging in to the food, we stopped for a moment and smiled at each other. Maybe it was because the park was so empty, or the novelty of the picnic, but it felt like we were alone, just the two of us, sitting there in our own little part of the world.

Ever since Matt and I first started dating (it’s been almost six years now!), we’ve always loved trying new foods and new restaurants together. We honestly just love good food and conversation! Going out to eat has always been a way for us to slow down and reconnect while also experiencing something we both enjoy: food! Since the pandemic started, we’ve only been to one restaurant (with outdoor dining) so we really miss the experience of trying new food and, like the food critics we think we are, talking about food!

We brought this homemade apple pie on our picnic with us!

Matt has always been interested in how food is made; he loves cooking and talking about how flavors within a dish interact. It’s funny because I’ve been a vegetarian for over ten years so we have entirely different palates and types of food that we eat. So Matt will spend time talking about the tenderness of a meat dish and I will talk about how fresh and crisp the produce is in mine, but we will never actually take a bite of the other’s food!

While taking out isn’t exactly the same as going out to eat, the fact that we enjoyed the food in a novel place felt more similar to restaurant-going experience than cooking at home or ordering in. Matt did indeed spend five full minutes talking about the inner-workings of the meats, cheese, herbs, oils, and vinegars in his Italian sandwich. I applauded the fresh ingredients and master layering techniques in my veggies sandwich with avocado, onion, tomato, lettuce, and cheese. All was well in the world.

Over sandwiches, we also talked about how the last couple of weeks had been for each of us — what challenges we were each experiencing personally and professionally, which we don’t always have time to unpack in detail during the busy work weeks. It’s always nice to slow down enough to actually reflect on our lives and evaluate what’s been working and what hasn’t been working. That’s the only way we can actually make changes in our lives and grow! Plus, having the support of your partner makes these changes and challenges feel easier to manage.

After stealing a few more of my potato chips (even though I told him to buy his own bag), Matt served the dessert: the homemade apple pie and the chocolate bomb we picked up at the deli. Indulging in these desserts felt mischievously fun! I love me some chocolate and the chocolate bomb did not disappoint. Even Matt, who isn’t a huge dessert person, commented on how good it was. It was so rich we couldn’t even finish it! I also had a slice of the apple pie, which has a brown sugar crumble (swoon).

Look at this perfectly layered sandwich from Vermont Country Deli!

After dessert, our moods had lifted. We laid back on the picnic blanket and looked up at the trees. It was a gorgeous, sunny fall day. There was a slight breeze but the sweater and jacket kept us warm. Our conversation naturally turned toward sharing memories — of the early stages of our relationship and the other places we’ve been throughout the course of our relationship. It felt so good to reminisce about the memories we’ve made together. It’s amazing to think about how much we’ve both grown and how we’ve grown together, yet I still appreciate all of those early memories, when we were a little younger, not as wise but not as settled, different from who we are now.

We tend to do this — reflect on where we’ve been, think about where we are now, and dream about where we might end up in the future. I like to think it’s because we are always changing, just like our relationship is always changing, and we want to remember every part of our evolution. This is our narrative — our story — that we tell one another, that we tell others, over and over again. It is a part of us and also exists apart from us, something we are growing and nurturing together all the time.

Moments like these, when we can create an experience to share, just the two of us, are so important to me. Setting aside time and space for us to connect, at least once a week, is crucial — at least for me, whose love language is ‘quality time.’ But I honestly think it’s important for everyone to be checking in with his/her/their partner, without distractions, on a regular basis or whenever possible. A mentor once told me that marriage (or any relationship) is “one long conversation.” She wisely advised to “never stop talking” to your partner. I love this advice!

I rolled over on to my stomach and played with a blade of grass. I looked over at Matt, who was still looking up at the sky. We were talking about how we would enjoy the baguette and honey butter another night this week, how grateful we were for the long weekend, and how happy we were to spend this afternoon with one another in such a beautiful place.

My boyfriend borrowed my sweater — he’s looks pretty good, right?

I never want to take these moments for granted. As life only gets busier and more distracting the older we get, I am passionate about finding ways for us to slow down together. This particular day, it was a picnic but a cozy, candle-lit dinner at home, a long walk around the neighborhood, or even a long car ride can be an opportunity for connection.

___

As we folded up the blanket and put the leftovers back in the picnic basket, we left our little corner of the world and headed for home. Matt offered to carry the heavier basket in exchange that I carried the grass-covered blanket. We wandered back to the car and packed it up with our belongings.

Fall always makes me feel romantic; maybe it’s because Matt and I started dating in the fall, or because there is a coziness about the cooler weather — a change about the world that your body can detect on a visceral level. It’s as if nature is making way for something deeper, longer, bigger, and more real. Nature’s transition into autumn is a lot like falling in love, the real kind, that is deep and all-consuming. The kind that encourages you to change, that shows you letting go of the past can be a scary but beautiful experience.

The deeper we tread into autumn, the more I recognize this feeling of depth within myself and in my relationship. Autumn is a time of preparing for this depth, this connection with the world around us, with others, with ourselves. It’s as if she’s telling us that there is more to come. We just have to slow down long enough to hear it.

I love how fun this jacket is! It’s cropped but still cozy and definitely added some glam!

OUTFIT DETAILS

+ BP. Neon Faux Shearling Bomber Jacket in Beige Burnt

KUT FROM THE KLOTH Kelsey High Waist Kick Flare Corduroy Pants in Cognac

+ Kork-Ease Kit Chelsea Boot in Brown Leather

QUAY Noosa 55mm Cat Eye Sunglasses in Purple Tortoise/Black Fade

HAIR, MAKE-UP, & NAILS

Too Faced Pumpkin Spice Eyeshadow Palette

+ Gellen Fall Gel Nail Polish Kit

+ Tortoise Shell Hair Clip

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