An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Taking the inside ... outside

Like many of you, I am already thinking ahead to the holiday season. There is so much to do! Lately I've read countless articles on how to not only celebrate the holidays, but how to deal with the stress. To be sure, we all have ways to deal with holiday stress and busyness -- planning, shopping early, making lists (lots of lists!) -- but over the years I've come to realize that for my family there are two areas which make all the difference in helping us celebrate the holidays with purpose and mindfulness: keeping things simple and dining al fresco.

Simplicity is a topic all on its own, and it's one in which I am most passionate about. I am all about the simple life and striving for simplicity of mind, hearth and home. But in order to do this topic justice I will address in a future post. Stay tuned.

Today, however, I want to share how dining al fresco can offer a respite from the hectic pace set by the holiday season.

Let me set the stage: as I'm typing this, I'm sitting on our back deck under a rain of falling leaves. Colors of red, orange, yellow, and brown spiral downward to land ever so softly on the grass, the brick patio, my head. I hear them land, I hear them crunch as the squirrels scamper about. I have a steaming mug of tea and a yogurt next to me, and every few sentences I pause, take a sip of tea, and look at the raining leaves.

Of course, I could write this post and sip my tea while sitting at my kitchen table, but then I would get up to throw another load in the washing machine, look at my calendar, and put the breakfast dishes away. I wouldn't be as wholly present as I am now, out here on the deck.

I've said it before, and I've even given a talk on this, but there is something magical about taking a meal outside. Whether you're sitting on the back deck, at an outdoor café or under a park gazebo, dining al fresco is a gift of allowing ourselves to be removed from time; it allows us to savor our food instead of gulping it down, it encourages us to converse instead of talk, and most importantly, it reminds us to linger instead of rushing off to the next activity.

And for me, nothing is better for relieving stress during a busy holiday season than dining al fresco where, somehow, you discover time you didn't think you had.

I've seen the magic time and again, how something ordinary like a bowl of chili, a dish of lasagna, or a simple glass of wine is elevated into something extraordinary just by taking it outside. It's magical, this gentle reminder to sit.

To bide a while.

So now, my tea is finished, this post is published, and I will go rake because while falling leaves are pretty in the back yard, they are quite messy in the front. I'll be back tomorrow for tips and tricks on how to take your Thanksgiving table outside. In the meantime, take that cup of coffee and go sit on the front porch. ;-)

Preparing to dine al fresco for our Girls' Trip to Italy one year reunion.

We lingered over the table for more than three hours.

Dining al fresco with the Bunco gals.

Enjoying a glass of wine outside. Breckenridge, Co.

Why eat inside when there is all that magic outside?
Rome, Girls' Trip to Italy, June 2015

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