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We almost didn’t pack a picnic and leave the city. We almost didn’t remember to look up from our panicked focus on getting things done, taking care of Leo and worrying about EVERYTHING for long enough to notice that it was high time we took a day trip. Luckily, our friends wanted to go to Storm King, a sprawling, gorgeous Hudson Valley toddler run cum sculpture park. So we snapped out of our urban angst and hit the road, with a full picnic in tow and a let-the-nap-fall-where-it-may attitude. Highly recommended.
Whenever we let Leo off his leash—I mean take him to a big open grassy place without cars and bad guys—I begin to wonder if we’re doing him a major disservice by cooping him up in the city. Playgrounds scrape knees, and are so full of kids—and those damn ice cream carts—that we all leave stressed out. Our patio, with its tiny water and sand table, has turned into a toddler coop, and Leo spends more time sticking his limbs through the railing like a caged beast than he does, well, scooping and dumping water and sand repeatedly over a 2-foot table. Yeah.
Storm King is just under 2 hours driving from New York, and the massive sculpture, while tempting to climb on or otherwise interact with, is interesting in its own right, and inspiring in its way of making the space around it feel particularly large, freeing and beautiful. You just want to run up and down hills then flop on your back in the grass to look up at the massive metal works of art that tower above. It’s a great way to work up an appetite.
For our picnic, which included one vegetarian and one toddler (ie wild card), I made a tofu and broccoli salad from my friend Melissa Clark’s diet cookbook, The Skinny. Except I may have made it a tad less…skinny. Then I packed up some leftover roast chicken, grapes and strawberries, and a bowl of whole wheat fusilli and green beans tossed with a mild (ie kid-friendly) parsley-basil pesto spun out of my herb collection. Our friends brought foccacia, olives and pie.
It was a lovely green meal in a stunning green place, and we left feeling satisfied, tired and inspired. On the way home we all fell asleep except Aaron, who happened to be driving, and I woke to find myself staring up at the skyscrapers—and their reflections on each other—with a new perspective: calmer, yet capable of awe. I’m always glad we live in the city when we remember to leave.
Zoe Singer is a freelance food writer and cookbook editor and co-author of The Flexitarian Table. Food Editor and blogger for The Faster Times, she tries not to eat for two now that her son is a toddler.