All posts tagged: Outside

How a Backyard Obsession Turned Into a Supper Club

Growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, I spent most of my time outside: swimming in the pool, eating charred hot dogs and fudgsicles in the grass, swinging from the diseased sycamore tree. It was my (hated) job to mow the lawn, year round. Trust me, you haven’t lived until you’ve cut the grass in 114 degree heat. You will see God in a sweat-and-dehydration-fueled hallucination. You will also smell God in the scent of the freshly cut grass clippings — earthy, vegetal, sweet and lemony. I spent a lot of time twirling around in circles and then falling to the grass to watch the sky spin, and playing dodge ball with the kids down the street. It wasn’t until I moved to New York City that I realized how much life outside mattered to me, and would shape not just my neighborhood and apartment choice, but my entire life and career. It was a bumpy entry into NYC 17 years ago, starting with sublets and ending in a 6th floor walk-up with a talented, though narcissistic, artist …

Second-Time Travel: Al Fresco in Miami

Every year, at the peak of winter, I leave New York to spend a week in Miami. It’s not a vacation; I work virtually, continuing my daily routine as if I was in the office. I just move my office south. It’s one of those few benefits I gained from going to the University of Miami: I can discuss football at great length, I’ve mastered (and since given up) the fine art of tanning, and I have a number of friends who remained in Miami — with guest rooms. I can tell by the way my colleagues air-quote “working” that they assume I’m on South Beach, taking conference calls from the chaise while sipping a mojito. But I’m nowhere near the beach. For me, being in Miami is simply about being outside, where the only layers I need are SPF. And then, I rarely go out during the day. I look forward to the evenings, dining al fresco and enjoying the fact that I’m not trudging through snow. And I have that mojito. Even then, …

Rolling on the (Delaware) River: The Church of Tubing

I’ve spent most of my life along the bank of one river or another, including the San Lorenzo in Santa Cruz and the Tiber in Rome, but the river in which I’ve washed away my most of my sins is the Delaware. I’ve lived in tiny towns on Delaware’s eastern banks and the largest city on its western shore. I’ve seen it from its most picturesque to its filthiest, and have certainly smelled its remarkable spectrum of aromas. From ages 10 through 17, I lived directly on its banks. When my family arrived in the ‘70s, we landed in the village of Titusville — the site of Washington’s crossing of the Delaware. Over the centuries, it’s been a town of lumber mills, mule barges and summer homes for the wealthy. At the time we moved, it had evolved into a sleepy working-class hamlet. The main road was paved with gravel and lined with three churches, two bars and a soft-serve ice cream joint. Not much has changed since then except for the gravel — it’s …

Building the Perfect Picnic

Who doesn’t love a picnic? When the weather gets warm and the grass gets green, there’s nothing better than filling a cooler full of food and drink and heading out for an afternoon at the park or the beach. But in order to make it a truly fabulous picnic, you’ll want to make sure you have the following five essentials. 1. The Basket Buccaneer’s Grill and BBQ Set, $160, is the mother of all picnic baskets. It not only chills your sodas and holds your food and supplies — it also turns into a grill! Now that’s hot. If you’re more of “a jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou” type, then you’ll love Picnic at Ascot’s Wine Carrier and Purse, $44. Pick a favorite bottle of spirits, tuck a baguette under your arm and let the party begin. The creators claim that this cute tote can also be used as an evening bag, which will come particularly in handy at those pricey bottle service establishments. Cheers. 2. The Blanket This is the …

Walk On By: How I Spend My Summers Sober

Spring and early summer in New York City is one of my favorite times of the year. The sun is shining, it’s warm but not sweltering hot, you can just throw on flip flops and be on your way, and the streets are swarming with (mostly) happy, sunshine worshipers, walking their dogs, laying out in the park and filling outdoor cafes. But this outdoor magic can quickly become a danger for a recovering alcoholic. The people sitting at outdoor cafes, enjoying cool glasses of white wine or early evening martinis — take on a romantic, almost otherworldly glow if I choose to lay my eyes on them for too long. Suddenly what I see is much more than what is really there. I see solace. I see a refuge where all my problems will disappear. I see a place that will be a steadfast and unquestioning companion. Like that woman at that table with her Macbook and a beer. Surely I could do that? Work on my column (let’s pretend it’s not about alcoholism) and enjoy a …

The Wild Outdoors: Two Books Peer Into Nature’s Dark Side

You probably don’t live in a cave, which means you’re aware of the runaway success of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. At age 26, Strayed (a surname she chose to indicate her status) illogically, and with little preparation, chose to hike the 1,100-mile Pacific Coast Trail solo. I say “illogically” because of the dangers and pitfalls inherent in such an undertaking, not that Strayed had no good reason for her quest. She did: She was mourning the loss of her mother, grieving the end of her marriage and psychologically at the end of her tether. All of which is big fodder for big adventure. But what sets Wild apart from other memoirs of self-seeking treks is Strayed’s assured, calm voice — perhaps a clue as to why it took her so long (17 years) to write about the experience. The author knows she survived and also knows she learned a great deal, and she is able to prop up the reader through otherwise terrifying events involving bears, hanging …

Back in The Woods: Finding Magic and Memories

I’ve been a city girl for nearly 30 years. But I grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey, where the little bit of leafy woods that remained after our homes were built was a source of both solace and mystery. As a child, I sought out the quiet calm of the scrubby forest behind Thomas Jefferson Junior High School. But at the same time, I found the solitariness a bit frightening. Who might I encounter there? Older kids smoked cigarettes and drank warm beer in those woods, and there were ridiculous kid-fueled rumors of deranged child-killers and bobcats. Taking a shortcut through that place to the pizza parlor on Saddle River Road was a brave undertaking for ten-year-old me. Still, nothing could keep me out of the woods for long. That’s still true today. I’m fortunate enough to spend my weekends and summers at an old farmhouse in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains. Formed about a half a billion years ago, the Berkshires sit mostly in Massachusetts but also border Vermont, New York and …

Margit’s Note: Good Day Sunshine

We’ve been holed up… It has been a long, hard winter here on this coast of the country, and now we squint into the sunlight, bare our legs and arms, sport shorty shorts before they’re deemed appropriate because we CAN’T WAIT for a life outside. Al fricking fresco. Hand me some mint iced tea or a crisp Vermentino, a good book (thank you Bethanne), and I’ll just prop my bare feet up on this lounge chair here. Ahhh. This all means making yourself more presentable, of course. Manicuring one’s bits a bit more. Socks, I already miss you. Toes, I’m happy to see you. Oh the conundrum. It’s time to face the world, your neighbors, the trees, with that precious mug you’ve been hiding. So this week, we’re coming out… Jody Jones builds up the perfect picnic. Courtney Colwell tells us where to go for our 2nd Time Travel to Miami (hint: not South Beach). Bethanne Patrick gives us two books that head into the wild. Tamara Reynolds extols the values of a great backyard. Susan Linney …