At about 7 a.m. Sunday, I thought we were in deep trouble: The sky was gray, rain was falling, and the Texas Gal and I were expecting as many as sixty people for our biennial End of Summer Picnic in five hours. As cozy as our house is, we would not get sixty folks into the kitchen, dining room, living room and back hallway.

That was especially true because much of the space in the dining room and living room was already taken up by tables on which we would place the food brought by our guests.

So I did what I could do inside to prepare for the picnic and then sat at my computer, refreshing the weather radar every few minutes.

The Texas Gal soon joined me downstairs and began culinary preparations: getting the shredded beef brisket and the barbecued chicken into the oven and the calico beans into the crockpot. The cats were sequestered upstairs. Tablecloths went on the tables, followed by utensils, pickles and condiments.

And then we waited and checked the weather, she on her phone, I at my computer. Around ten o’clock, a weather program I consult occasionally said that the rain would end in about thirty minutes. And it did. When I went out about forty minutes later to place lawn chairs, the rain was over, although the trees were still shedding water from their leaves.

Soon after that, I made a run for ice, got the various beverages in coolers under a Norway pine and we waited. And our biennial picnic was a great success. The sun came out, the grass dried, and although the day became fairly warm, the heat was never oppressive.

We had about sixty people join us: My mom, my sister and a few of my cousins; members of our Unitarian Universalist Fellowship; the Texas Gal’s co-workers, both former and current; and friends from all eras of our lives, including a cluster of about eight folks from the days of The Table at St. Cloud State, three of whom I had not seen for close to forty years.

Finally, there was Yah Shure, constant reader and frequent commenter here. His regular contribution to our picnics has moved over the years into legend. I greeted him and sent him on into the house with his famed white plastic bucket (and a clutch of custom-burned CDs he was delivering), and as I moved back to the rapidly growing throng, four or five of our regular guests asked me, “Is that the Fudgy Bonbon man?”

“Yep,” I told them, guessing that by the end of the day, Yah Shure’s chocolatey treats would be gone and his white bucket, which he always makes certain to take back to St. Paul with him, would be empty. (I didn’t check as he left, but as the bucket made the rounds where the last eight or nine of us were chatting in the late afternoon, there were very few bonbons left.)

Beyond the Fudgy Bonbons, the bounty offered on our tables by our guests was astounding in its variety and quantity: the salads included potato, pasta, cole slaw, and a wonderful concoction of watermelon and feta cheese under a savory dressing (I’m going to get the recipe for that one very soon); there were chips, crackers, dips and salsas; kabobs with veggies, fruit and sausage; and desserts galore, including apple pie, apple cobbler, bars and cakes, and an ice box cake from our new friend Lucille, one made from her grandmother’s recipe. (It combines chocolate and vanilla puddings, graham crackers and bananas, and I’m making quick work of the leftovers.)

If anything was in short supply Sunday, it was time enough for the Texas Gal and me to spend with all of our guests as we hosted. There were some with whom we hardly spoke, but I’m sure they understood. Other than that, it was a day of plenty: Plenty to eat on the tables, plenty to drink in the coolers; plenty of good company; and plenty to talk about.

And to mark that day of plenty, here are the Pointer Sisters combining the jazz standard “That’s A Plenty” with the silliness of a tune called “Surfeit, U.S.A.” from their 1974 album That’s A Plenty.


One Response to “Plenty”

  1. Yah Shure says:

    That truly was an amazing array of goodies! An entire field’s worth of sugar beets must’ve given up their lives for the dessert tables alone. I’m still snacking on the dried Swiss chard that the Texas Gal sent home with me. The apple crisp is down to a spoonful, as every last morsel is savored.

    The best part for me was being an honorary member of The Table for an afternoon. Such stories you could (and did) tell! There was the washing machine fascination, tales from the Navy, the “Dead Ants” song, with laughter all around as the Hitchcockian flock of pigeons perched atop the roof, making periodic sorties… Did someone tip them off about the Fudgy Bon Bons?

    I had no idea the white plastic bucket had gained such fame. 😉 It better not be thinking it’s too good to be sharing shelf space with those “other” cookie containers.

    Thanks to you and the Texas Gal and all of your wonderful friends and family for a great picnic!

    –Fudgy Bon Bon Man

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