Hunt & Gather

Splendor in the Grass

Summer is made for picnics

Styling by Randy McManus

Food Styling by Joe Curran

Photographs by John Gessner

There are few things so pleasant as a picnic eaten in perfect comfort.” So said the late playwright and novelist Somerset Maugham, echoing a romantic notion that has been around Western cultures at least since the late Middle Ages, when the practice of eating a good meal out of doors with friends gained provenance among the upper classes of English and French societies. The word itself seems to have evolved from middle French pique-nique, meaning a casual social gathering where participants bring their own food. Following the French Revolution in 1789, royal parks opened to the public for the first time, inspiring a wave of enfranchised citizens to dine out of doors in the bosom of nature. In America, romantic landscape painters (particularly those of the Hudson River School) frequently included depictions of picnics in bucolic settings, namely, parklands and formal gardens.

It’s unlikely the young picnicking couple here is overly concerned with the evolutionary path of the modern picnic, but they clearly embrace the notion that a well-executed summer picnic begins with the right setting and provisions, the ingredients of which are pretty timeless — ripened grapes, well-aged cheese, a fine crusty bread, a chilled vintage wine, the right book of verse and, well, thou. With love in bloom and a bouquet of flowers in hand, what else does one need on a perfect summer afternoon?


Ladies’ sandals from Main & Taylor, Greensboro

Dishes, bowls, glasses and pitcher from Carolyn Todd’s, Greensboro

Wine cooler designed by Bradshaw Orrell for Chelsea House

Flowers, tablecloth, pillows, gold tray from Randy McManus Designs, Greensboro

Food from 1703 Restaurant, Winston-Salem

Wine from Rickety Bridge, distributed in High Point

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