During a day-trip along the Northern California coast with her husband, Noël reflects on the construct of being "outdoorsy" while living in a busy and city-centric environment. With a Wine Tumbler in hand, Noël dives into the importance of establishing a sense of adventure no matter where you are and what is at your disposal.
I never considered my family to be outdoorsy. None of my relatives climb cliffsides; no one has thru-hiked or winter mountaineered. Sometimes, when we would visit the local bookstore, I would skim through the pages of National Geographic or Outside magazine and dream of what it would be like to partake in some of the adventures that others had access to. I wanted to ski down remote slopes and hang from the sunbaked sandstone in the Southwest and would often whine about the lack of opportunity to do these things. And as I would declare my woes to my mother, she would open the door to the backyard and shoo me outside. “You want to have an outdoor adventure, right?” she’d say, and I’d roll my eyes wildly.
Though we weren’t engaging in activities that would earn us a photo in Outdoor Life magazine, my family did love nature and my parents always did their best to welcome it into even the most mundane aspects of our lives – especially during mealtimes. Growing up, we ate over 75% of our meals outside. Al fresco dining wasn’t just saved for fair-weather seasons, it was a year-round endeavor, which often meant changing into different outfits in order to withstand the elements. We had a large umbrella that covered our outside dining table. My mom would unfurl it when the sun was blazing, but also when it rained. My sisters and I would fight over who gets the middle chairs during the rainy months – since a rectangular table with a round umbrella meant whoever sat at the head of the table got wet. In the summer, we’d encircle ourselves with mosquito coils and citronella candles in hopes of creating a smoky perimeter of protection against blood-sucking bugs. But even when swarms of mosquitoes would knock on our living room windows – begging us to come out and play – my mom would shuffle plates of chile rellenos or bowls of albondigas outside and command us to follow suit.
As I got older, I began to blaze my own trail when it came to outside recreation. I took classes, went on trips, and slowly got to try my hand at some of the activities I used to ogle over in those glossy pages of magazines when I was young. But, my most favorite outdoor activity has continued to be eating. One day, when Jonnie and I were first dating, I decided to cook us dinner. He was living in a tiny apartment at the time – with no real patio space – but as I served our plates, I asked him if we could sit out on his front step and eat. He obliged, and as we dined, he mentioned how nice it felt to share a meal outside. “It feels like a mini vacation,” he said to me. I laughed, thinking back to all the times I’d sit shivering while shoveling food into my mouth and lamenting our imposed outdoor dining obsession. “I wish I grew up doing that,” he said, “my family just wasn’t as outdoorsy,” and I smiled at the use of a descriptive word I had long coveted.
It’s unfortunate to think of how often we challenge the qualifications of the title “outdoorsy," somehow enforcing a standard by which one must partake of outside activities to earn the use of the adjective. These days, picnicking is one of the ways we partake in outdoor recreation – in fact, sometimes it’s one of the only ways we can during busy work weeks. Though we might not have the time to drive out to the mountains, adventure can always be found in local parks and green spaces. To me, there is no better way to cherish and honor wild spaces than by communing in them in ways that meet our most basic needs, like meditating, exercising, and eating.
Along with our adoration of food and being outside, my family is made up of wine lovers. In fact, many of them would say there’s nothing that tops off a good meal better than a glass of crisp chardonnay and some beautiful scenery to pair it with. For years, we’ve lugged heavy coolers up to viewpoints and parks in order to keep a bottle chilled. So, there’s no surprise that we were thrilled to find a carafe that keeps our wine cold. MiiR’s vacuum insulated bottle keeps drinks cold for over 24 hours, which makes toting wine along on day trips a total breeze. Its leak-proof lid means you don’t have to worry about spilling in your backpack or bag, and its sturdy stainless steel makeup means you don’t have to worry about the leaking seams or pinholes that can happen with bags of wine. Plus, the bottle and tumblers don’t sweat, and the powder coating finish even makes you feel a little fancy when you pull them out on the trail or at your local picnic spot. Though we love keeping whites and rosé cool using MiiR’s wine carafe, it’s also great for transporting reds as it prevents them from getting too warm on sunny days, and – by using this bottle – there’s no need to worry about accidentally leaving your wine opener at home!
Personally, I consider picnicking to be the most underrated outdoor activity. And yet its one of the most accessible ways to enjoy being outside, requiring minimal time, resources, and gear. It also provides a good gateway to invite others to experience nature alongside you. That’s why, these days, I’ve decided to ditch the restrictions I’ve accepted as requirements to deem myself “outdoorsy” and am inviting others to join me outside more often – be it packing a snack to enjoy a local picnic area or sharing an epic sunset in the company of those I love with a glass of wine in-hand. Because, like my mom always said, “If you want to be outdoorsy, all you gotta do is go outside.”