I’ve surfaced from a few weeks of summer holidays and letting go of routine for a while. Nature, on the other hand, has continued at full tilt. Right now, a trip to the farmers’ market is a heady time, leaving my basket heaving with produce – stone fruit, berries, capsicums, zucchini, sweet corn, tomatoes, cucumbers and more – and my imagination buzzing with possibilities.
So the other weekend, we decided to make the most of the gorgeous weather and inspiration from the summer harvest and celebrate with a picnic. We found a quiet spot in Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens, and gained a new perspective on time, space and pleasure in the process.
We feasted on tomato and zucchini flower tarts; our favourite goats cheese from Holy Goat; ham off the bone, salad leaves and a baguette with my first batch of bread and butter cucumber pickles. We finished with a beautifully soft fluffy yoghurt cake studded with strawberries and blueberries, topped with a salty sweet crumble and served with the wonderful Schulz Organic cream, plus more tiny strawberries from an Italian family I’ve come to know.
It was one of those special, spacious afternoons where time seemed to pass slowly, generously. Everything had been catered for, so all we had to do was savour it.
It got me thinking about how we could enjoy the time we had because we had given ourselves permission to take it, purely for pleasure. There was nowhere else to go and nothing else contemplated. We let go of the to-do list and distractions, and surrendered to the simplicity of a leisurely afternoon of food, conversation and rest.
Unlike our everyday lives where we can feel bullied by time and the drive to squeeze more out of every minute, time felt different that afternoon. It felt bigger, more generous and open, and we wanted to spend it differently. We were free to tune into what felt good in that moment and do that, like lying under the tree and watching its branches wave in the breeze. Other picnickers also seemed happy to relax and enjoy each other's company and when they did have the urge to move, it was gentle too – throwing a frisbee, playing bocce or hide and seek with the children.
As we immersed ourselves in the spaciousness, I noticed that it was different because we had made the conscious choice to carve out the time, to create that space, and to let go in the way we do on holidays. So I wondered, can we experience this in our everyday lives more than we think? Are time and space a state of mind, a way of being?