Winter Picnic

On a Saturday in January, Amy slowly opened her eyes and stretched in the warmth of her bed. Today was the day: the first weekend after a big snow. Hopping out of bed, she whirled around the room, hummed as she dressed, then skipped into the kitchen and gave her mother a hug.

Mom, returning Amy’s hug, said, “Please set the table. Dad and Roy will be in soon.”

As Amy set the last plate on the table, Dad and Roy hurried through the back door, stomping snow from their boots. “There must be a good eight inches of snow out there,” Dad said, “and probably two feet in the mountains.”

Roy added, “And it looks like there’s more to come.”

When breakfast was over and everything had been cleared away, Dad asked, “Is everything packed and ready?”

“Yes,” Mom answered, pulling a blue and white wool cap over her head. “We’re all ready to go.”

As Dad drove slowly along the back road into the mountains, Amy, unable to contain herself, sang out, “Won’t it be fun! Won’t it just be great fun!”

One final, long, climbing curve brought them deep into the mountains. Off to the right was a snowy bowl-like meadow. The sunlight sparkling on the snow sent rainbows of color glittering into the air.

“It’s so beautiful!” whispered Amy, gazing at the snow-covered pines surrounding the meadow.

Mom whispered too. “It’s glorious! It’s one of Heavenly Father’s designs, and it’s perfect for our special day.”

Roy and Amy tossed handfuls of snow at each other as they ran to help unload the sleds. Then Roy placed their big picnic basket on the sled between Mom and Amy.

“Dad and I will beat you two down,” he challenged as he ran to sit behind his father on the other sled.

The rush of air snatched their happy cries as the sleds sped down the slope, coasting to a stop at the far edge of the meadow.

“First things first,” Mom announced, unloading the basket. Soon a big thermos of hot chocolate and slices of bread and butter were laid out on an old blanket spread on the snowy ground.

Dad, meanwhile, had lit a fire in the large sand-filled metal tub that he and Roy had brought on their sled. As soon as the charcoal was crusted with white ashes, they placed an old grill over the top and set a kettle of chili on it to keep warm while they played in the snow.

Swooping Amy high in his arms, Dad whooped, “Let’s make a snowman!” They all began rolling big balls of snow, and in just a short time they had a huge snowman. Placing eyes of charcoal in the snowman’s head, Roy tossed a handful of snow at Mom and said, “Finish him off.”

Mom pulled all kinds of leftovers from Halloween costumes out of her coat pockets, and soon the snowman was completely outfitted.

The sleds—sometimes with one rider each, sometimes with two—were soon racing each other down the slope.

Later, filled with hot food, the happy family sat around the glowing embers and talked about the fun they’d had. After they’d rested a bit, Mom declared that it was time to play fox and geese. First they stomped out a circle in the snow. Then they tramped the snow down to form paths that cut the circle into quarters. The paths crossed in the center, where they formed the safety circle.

Dad laid claim on being the fox first and warned that the geese had better look out for him. Soon they were all running around the circle, bumping into each other and shrieking happily. After each of them had been the fox several times, they flopped onto the snow and watched as long shadows from the pines crept across the meadow.

It was time to go. They extinguished the charcoal, then headed for the car. Amy turned and waved to the snowman. She was sure that he tipped his head in response. Before snuggling beneath the cozy blankets at bedtime, Amy told Heavenly Father, “Thanks for today. There is nothing as fun as a winter picnic!”

[illustrations] Illustrated by Robyn S. Officer