An Indian Summer Picnic
It has been so warm for fall in Chicago that I felt like it would be an injustice to not be outside soaking up every last ray of sunshine this weekend, so I decided to throw an Indian summer picnic. I was curious where the term “Indian summer” came from and took to the interwebs to see if I could find some inspiration for this little soiree. In a not-so-zen turn of events, I found out that the phrase was probably coined by early settlers, who would look forward to the cold weather fall would bring so they wouldn’t have to worry about Native American attacks. They would leave their weapons and watchtowers, but when the weather took an unexpected turn for the warmer, the Native Americans would have one more “go” at them, hence the name “Indian Summer”. Don’t worry, my picnic was not inspired by this piece of information.
In Bulgaria, this rare warm weather is known as a “gypsy summer”. Of course, we love anything gypsy-inspired, and so became the theme.
We plopped down at 12th Street Beach on the south side of Chicago. It was so pretty to be on the water but still able to see the beautiful changing trees. As you can see, it was pretty rocky, so I was thankful we had brought some gypsy-inspired floor cushions instead of just a blanket!
For the menu, I made some Bulgarian cookies, a quick cheese tray with goat cheese, arugula and Marcona almonds, and a plum, pear and thyme tart. Yum! I still had some plums and pears left over after making my tart too, so I roasted those up with some honey and cinnamon for the cheese plate.
As for the drink of choice, I went with an apple cider mimosa. For easy transport, I made it in a mason jar and added some cranberries and apple slices to make it a little more festive. I also mixed up some brown sugar and cinnamon for the rim, which made all the difference.
I love fall colors and went for a really vibrant palette. When I think of gypsy décor, I think of mismatched colorful and eclectic patterns (all of which we love here at Zenzista), so you’ll see that reflected in the tablecloth, cushions and florals.
Even though you’ll never hear me complain about warm weather in Chicago, I think this whole Indian summer thing is a good reminder to treat our earth well. Indian summers seem to be more common and feel like they last longer every year. Native Americans live with a sacred appreciation and respect for nature, so the name Indian summer and what it’s become seems almost ironic. To celebrate the warm weather, let’s drink mimosas (yes!) but also honor the teachings of Native Americans in respect to nature. A little summary is below.
As humans, we have a reciprocal relationship with nature. One can not exist without the other, so we should not act as if we are the masters. Everything that exists, from something as small as a rock to as large as a towering tree, has a soul and should be treated with respect because it was before and will be still after humankind.
“The land is not a place separate from ourselves where we act out the drama of our isolate destinies. It is not a means of survival, a setting for our affairs ... It is rather a part of our being, dynamic, significant, real.”