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Picnic Perfect

Off Campus | April 13, 2010

Students enjoy a picnic on a sunny day

I’m not a stats whiz, but I do know that there is an inverse relationship between sunshine and productivity. Though I like to think that the President’s Lawn’s proximity to Tisch somehow benefits my ability to do work, sprawling on the grass invariably leads to two things: chatting with friends and/or napping. So why don’t we all just give up the charade? Instead of lugging our MacBooks to a grassy knoll on campus, bring a basket of ambrosial snacks to a park and spread out. That’s right: ‘tis the season for picnics!

When the next resplendent Sunday afternoon rolls around, take your trick-turned, Dewick-thieved, or store-bought picnic victuals to any number of splendid picnic areas around Boston. In the Tufts vicinity, you can head to the Powderhouse Magazine Park next to the rotary. The noise from that godforsaken traffic circle quiets down just past the crest of the hill. To up your picnic’s deliciousness quotient, grab a breakfast sandwich from the Broken Yolk and plop down in a shady spot to enjoy.

Another lesser-known grassy area nearby is the Veterans’ Memorial Park, which you can find if you walk down about five blocks past the Danish Pastry House on Winthrop. The park lies adjacent to the Mystic River and has kind of a derelict charm to it. If the ground is soggy from spring rains, you can enjoy your picnic victuals on the stage of the public amphitheater.

Just south of Davis Square lies Danehy Park, a gem of a spot for a picnics and general frolicking. A child of the Big Dig, this 50-acre park used to be a landfill but was converted to a lush green space in the late 1980s. Expect to come across soccer games, public art installations, wetlands, and a myriad of little tykes running around.

You know that grassy docklands area you can see from the T when you cross the Charles that always looks so terribly pleasant? What you are looking at is called “The Esplanade,” (from the French “promenade by the river”), which features six miles of walkways and bike paths, boathouses, playgrounds, wading pools, statues, and various other outdoor amenities. Spread out your picnic blanket on the lawn in front of the Hatch Shell performance stage (where there are frequent summer concerts) or on the banks of the river overlooking Cambridge.

If you are feeling super adventurous, follow the Blue Line out towards Wonderland (how fabulous does that sound?) and get off at Maverick Square. In a few minutes’ walk, you will come across the stunningly beautiful Piers Park. As its website proudly claims, “Piers Park provides direct access to the waterfront along with spectacular views of downtown Boston across the inner harbor.” On scorching summer days, you can lay out your picnics in the shade of one of the park’s pavilions and luxuriate in the bay breeze.

Finally, I feel I cannot extemporize about choice picnic spots in Boston without mentioning the Boston Common. After all, it boasts of being the oldest park in the country, and at 50 acres, one of the biggest in the city. In days of old, you would have had to share your picnic space with grazing cattle and the occasional crowds gathered there to view public hangings. Now, however, you can savor your PB&Js (or whatever you improvised to snack on) in peace.

So, the next time you look out your window and decide that you absolutely cannot stay indoors, try varying up your routine. Instead of moving to the yard outside your door, grab a friend and some food and head to one of these lovely, convenient outdoor spots. You may find that the grass is in fact greener on the other side.