Redwoods San Lorenzo Valley AutumnColumns Outdoors 

Golden Moments: The Zen of Mindful Picnicking in Autumn

By Luke Allis

Mindful Picnicking is the practice of savoring the simple pleasures of outdoor dining, where we fully immerse ourselves in the natural surroundings and the flavors of carefully curated seasonal delectables. As we transition into the fall, mindful picnicking can help us adapt to seasonal changes and foster a deep sense of gratitude for the autumnal experiences and sensations. Our unique community is blessed with access to both fresh seasonal selections and the serene redwood forest. This combination provides an idyllic setting for a mindful picnic with friends, family, or ourselves. 

Amid the inviting array of stalls at the Felton Farmer’s Market (open through October 24), a vibrant mosaic calls out to us to savor the richness of locally sourced, fresh produce. Traversing the market we fill our basket with the perfect ingredients. A freshly baked baguette with a golden crust that promises a soft center, radiant heirloom tomatoes that are a patchwork of colors and flavors, crisp radishes that hint at a spicy crunch, fragrant fresh herbs that beckon with their earthy aromas, and a selection of artisanal cheeses, crafted with time-honored traditions. 

Once we have gathered these local ingredients our journey continues down Highway 9 to the verdant realms of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. A gentle walk in the towering redwoods evokes a sense of awe and wonder, connecting us with the timeless beauty of nature. Every step taken is an invitation to leave behind the hustle and bustle of daily life and immerse ourselves in the tranquil rush of the San Lorenzo River and the crunch of yellow and golden leaves beneath our feet. In the embrace of ancient redwoods, a refreshing approach to picnicking awaits. A picnic experience where the lines between the nourishment of the body and soul become blurred, where every bite engulfs us in local flavors, cultivated with care and love. 

When the River Trail and Ox Trail Path meet, we cross the San Lorenzo River. As we walk down a gentle slope there lies a redwood grove adjacent to the tracks that carry the steam trains of Roaring Camp. The sunlight filters through the canopy, painting patterns on the forest floor filled with the golden needles released in timing with the season. We lay a blanket, a canvas ready to be adorned with the lively hues of our bounty. The stage is set for a picnic that transcends the ordinary, inviting us to savor each moment with mindfulness. 

We craft open-faced sandwiches that are as pleasing to the eye as they are to the palate. Each ingredient tells a story, a testimony to the labor of love and dedication that brought them into being. The first bite is a harmonious blend of the crunchy baguette, the sweetness of heirloom tomatoes, the zesty punch of radishes, and creamy cheese, all brought together by the aromatic kiss of fresh herbs. With deliberate slowness, we taste, we savor, and we celebrate the art of mindful eating. The surrounding redwoods stand as silent witnesses to our picnic, their grandeur a beautiful reminder that sometimes, the most profound connections are forged when we slow down and savor the journey. 

However, the heart of a mindful picnic is not confined by location but instead ignited by the conscious choices we make. When a farmer’s market is not available or time is short, we can discover the essence of mindfulness right in our local grocery store or within the confines of our own pantry. Each carefully selected item reflects our intention to savor and nourish even when the picnic blanket is laid out in our own backyard.

Luke Allis resides in Boulder Creek. He is a writer, instructional designer, LGBTQIA advocate, and Reiki Master at Redwood Mountain Reiki. He is the proud pet parent of two dogs, three cats, and three chickens.

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