I discovered the pleasure of patio dining in my first life when my Southern mother-in-law gathered her family around a table in the garden for a meal. Martha White was a Southern cook who made her own bread and put up pickles from the cucumbers dropped at her back door by people who weren’t always able to pay their bills at the lumber yard, the family business. Everyone would carry something from the kitchen out the back door. If it was Sunday, a platter would be filled with fried chicken. To this day, the comfort of family and food, lingering conversation around an outdoor table, is my favorite dining venue.
In my novel, Greening of a Heart, I wrote several scenes around meals that take place in the Vicarage garden. My own fond memories of patio dining helped me set the scene. “Over lunch their quiet voices drifted across the garden. It was one of those peaceful summer days when Hannah wished she could live forever. Enjoying good company, knowing Henry was staying, and eating a delicious tomato; she didn’t want to disturb the scene in any way, but an hour later they left for an afternoon in Oxford.”