As August wanes, I find myself wanting to stretch each hour of the day and spend as much time outdoors as I can—from early mornings on the porch to mid-day dog walks around the community garden to cold swims at the beach, informal wine gatherings with friends, and all kinds of picnics.
For inspiration, I’ve been flipping through Al Fresco: Inspired Ideas for Outdoor Living by Julie Pointer Adams, newly out from Artisan Books. Far from suggesting that an outdoor gathering must be an all-out affair, Pointer Adams captures possibilities of every scope to be together in nature—from spontaneous snacks to sit-down dinner parties (and recipes, too). “The aim is not to inspire you toward more styled occasions or fancy tablescapes, intended to be broadcast across social media,” Pointer Adams writes in the book’s introduction. “In fact, I’d like to propose just the opposite…Make more meals, pack more picnics, and get outside. It doesn’t matter how your spread looks; the point is to just do it, whether it’s with a can of Pringles or a smorgasbord of specialities.”
Here’s a glimpse.
Photography by Julie Pointer Adams from Al Fresco.
The book profiles 36 people and how they gather al fresco, intimately and widely, spontaneously and planned, by the water, in parks, at home, and for special occasions. To start, there’s Pointer Adams’ own family, who gathered, when she was a child, for idyllic summers on the Saint John River in Canada. “Meals were most often an afterthought…” she writes, “but there were always sandwiches, snacks, picnic baskets, and liters of ginger ale. Being outdoors, with some sort of food, has felt like the most relaxed, restorative way to be together for as long as I can remember.”