The Sensible Family Picnic

AS A preface to our familiar talk of today we will dismiss incontinently all thought of the public picnic, heralded by flaming placards, or by pulpit notices, and accompanied by national and society fags. Young eyes glisten gleefully in the prospect; graver and older folk groan in anticipation, and sigh in relief at the memory thereof. We did not mind “roughing it a bit” when we were young. In fact, there was a relishful spice of the unusual and the forbidden in the al fresco frolic that lasted all day and set at naught all the conventionalities of Sunday clothes and table manners associated with other and indoor convivialities. An old ballad sung in our grandmothers’ day invited one to “take tea in the arbour”-

With roses and posies to scent up your noses;
and lilies and billies and daffydownlillies.

The charmed visitors sough the arbour eagerly and saw the other side of the situation. Among other drawbacks to the pastoral,

A big daddy longlegs fell plump in my cup; the summer house floor was damp and the revellers caught cold, etc. When I was forty years younger, I laughed with others of the party when a New Jersey farmer from whom we had received permission to picnic on the banks of a purling stream flowing through his meadow, appeared as we were unpacking our baskets, with-

A FRIENDLY OFFER

“I say, why don’t you young folks bring all them victuals up to my house and eat them in the dining room, like Christians, where there’s no flies, and where you can set on comfortable chairs and eat out of plates? My old woman seen you from the winder, and how uncomfortable you all was, a sprawling on the damp grass, and sent me down to ask you up to the house. It shan’t cost you a cent.“
We declined civilly and gratefully, and waited until he was out of hearing before we had our laugh out.
I reminded a surviving member of the merry party the other day of the incident.
“How odd it seems now,” she said, reflexively, “to think that you and I ever enjoyed sitting on the ground and eating our luncheon out of pasteboard boxes!”
That summed up what the picnic is to her sophisticated self. I confess secretly i pack the boxes that are to thrill the soul of grandchildren with pure delight, when, in the hottest of the solstitial noontide, they will devour sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs and innumerable cookies in the woods, seated upon stumps and hummocks, spending eight hours in the open air and coming home at evening hungry as hunters, and so tired that they fall asleep as soon as their heads touch the pillows. It is weeks before the tan fades from their cheeks. The glamour of the innocent festa never leaves the memory.
For these and for sundry other reasons- all good and sufficient- I advise the family picnic to dwells in town and country. Get out of the rut at least two or three times while the prodigal summer is abroad upon he earth; set convention at defiance; forget for a few hours the claims of business, forego the attractions of cut-and-dried “functions” in the shape of indoor luncheons, dine and reception, and get at one with Mother Nature.
If the mother of the household does not “feel like going,” insist that she shall be the honoured guest of the day, the one for whom the festival is given. If there are daughters in the family, let them assume the major part of the preparations for luncheon. Do you, our loving and dutiful juniors, dream of the steady strain, the unceasing stress that housekeeping all the year round is to the faithful head of your home? When one and another remarks hastily that “mother’s appetite is falling,” and from the farther down to the youngling of the flock each taxes is invention to suggest and to pro side some delicacy that may tempt it- ices it occur to one of you that her malady may be “kitchenitis”?
By the coined word I would describe the listlessness that befalls appreciation of tempting foods when one knows, for twelve months at a time, exactly what is to be served three times a day; how it will look and taste- and smell! Give the mother a respite for one little day and let her find the lost relish for her daily fare in the out-of-door world. I am putting the girls in her place in the surprise-party that is her holiday.

Sandwiches

Are associated in the mind with picnics as firmly as sugar and cream with tea and coffee.
Cut the bread thin and either round, triangular or oblong- never square. Trim off the crusts; spread evenly with warmed butter, ad fill neatly. The filling should never project beyond the trimmed edges of the bread.

Some Fillings

1. Mince olives fine and work into cream cheese until you have a smooth paste freckled with green. Salt slightly.
2. Prepare as just directed, adding to the paste finely minced pecan-nut kernels.
3. After buttering the bread, spread rather thickly with cream cheese, and lay between the slices thus prepared a crisp leaf of lettuce dipped in French dressing. Wrap these sandwiches in tissue paper.
4. Mince cold veal or chicken, season tot sate with salt and paprika; butter the bread; cover with this mixture and lap crisp lettuce dipped in mayonnaise dressing between the filled slices.
5. Skin sardines; take out the backbone and rub the fish to a paste, adding butter and a little lemon juice. You may, if you like, add a dash of paprika. Spread between skies of bettered bread.
6. Pound the yolks of hard-boiled eggs to a powder. Rub to a paste with better, paprika and a dash of French mustard. Mince the whites of the boiled eggs as fine as possible and blend with the yolk paste. Butter thin skies of whole wheat or of graham bread and fill with this mixture.
Pack each variety of sandwich in a box of its own. Save candy boxes for this purpose. Line them with tissue paper and fold it over the contents.

Salads

Tin biscuit-boxes lined with the oiled paper that comes in candy boxes are useful for holding salads. Or you may line pasteboard cases and other green stuffs in lightly, and take e mixed dressing along in wide-mouthed bottles or in small fruit jars.
A fruit salad will be popular on a hot day. Peel and strip the white skin from the pulp of four or five oranges; separate the lobs gingerly, not tearing them, and cut each into four pieces with a sharp silver knife. Have at hand a cupful of the kernels of English walnuts which have been scalded, then left to get cold and crisp before they are cut into bits. (While they are hot, strip off the bitter skin.) Mix with the fruit and put into a glass jar with a tight top. Take along mayonnaise dressing for this.
A welcome item in the preparation for a picnic is ice. Cut a piece that will fit easily into a stout basket; wrap in canton flannel and then in several folds of newspaper. Wrap and bind tightly to exclude the air.
Finally, the oilcloth about the parcel and put into the basket. Cover all with stout paper and fit the cover upon the basket. Ice thus protected will keep eight or ten hours if the basket be not exposed to the sun. Commission a strong-armed boy to carry this, and should the journey be made by train or carriage, tuck the basket under the seat.
It is better to distribute the eatables among the party, arranged in parcels of in baskets of convenient size, than to pack all into one big hamper. If mother cannot enjoy her midday meal without her “Comfortable cup of tea,” she need not go without it. Hot-scalding hot-tea may be kept at the same temperature all day in the modern and invaluable vacuum bottle. It is not an expensive luxury and beyond price to traveler and excursionist. Hot soups, bouillon and broths may be secured at any hour of the day or night by the ingenious contrivance, and hot tea and coffee- freshly made before bottling, poured into the bottle and instantly corked and shut up in the airtight cover- will lose neither heat nor flavour in twelve hours.
Mother need not fear lest the excursion may deprive her of her tonic beverage. In a special basket may be stored tea, sugar and cream with her very own cup and saucer.
Lemonade may be made on the ground and drunk out of paper cup packed with wooden plates, paper napkins and centrepiece. It is a convenience, but not a necessity, to have also a tablecloth. But linen is heavy and one can do without other napery than what I have named. Pack the Japanese napkins in the lemonade pitcher, and in other ways economize every inch of space. A dress-suit case or two-or three-may be utilized to great advantage by our family of picnickers. They are roomy and light and attract no attention on train of trolley. Bestow your eatables at discretion within them, and let each boy assume the charge of one.
Wooden plates and paper napkins may be burned on the ground when they have served their purpose. And the suitcases may be utilized on the return trip as repositories for woodland treasures- odd fungi, roots and blossoms, oak-galls and mosses and last year’s bird rests.
Above all and before all and through all the outing maintain an cheerful spirit. Make the best of misadventures and turn disasters into jests. The perversion of the title of the frolic into “pleasure exertion” is a stale joke. It contains a biting satire upon the way some people take their pleasure. Perhaps five out of ten know how to enjoy a holiday- as such. See to it that your family outing is genuine recreation. The corn roast, games- in fact, anything to make the picnic a success is suggested. To this end don’t make a toil of what should be a delight.

Marion Harland

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