“I love a winter picnic,” said Daddy.
“Why Daddy?” Wynnie asked.
“No bugs. They have all gone to sleep. And lots of nice birds. There’s one now!”
Chickadee, dee, dee. “Hear that, Wynnie. That’s a chickadee. It sings it’s own name.
Do you see it, there in the birch tree?”
“Can we feed it now, Daddy?” Wynnie asked.
“Let’s wait ’til we have lunch. Maybe it will come right to the picnic table.”
The first snow of the season had fallen overnight, just a few inches. As the late morning sun broke through the clouds, the sky turned blue and the sun, warmer. The silent woods extended an invitation. Come and see what’s here. Rabbit, squirrel and deer tracks in the snow. Tinier tracks of a vole or deer mouse. Winter birds like cardinals, blue jays and chickadees, each with their own special call, size and colour.
The picnic lunch, planned ahead, was packed in a backpack that Daddy carried. Inside were hot dog buns, wieners, ketchup, mustard and relish, plates, cutlery, some napkins and two containers of fruit juice, one apple and one grape.
“This is just like home, Daddy,” said Wynnie. “Mommy gives me hot dogs, too.”
“Just one difference here, Wynnie. We have to build a fire first, so we can roast our wieners and toast our buns. Do you want to help me make a camp fire?”
“First, we need some dry wood. You start by looking for some dry, dead twigs. There’s a birch limb over there with dry twigs. I’ll make a spot in the snow here where we can start the fire.”
Daddy scraped the snow back with his boots to make a bare patch for the fire. With the dry twigs that Wynnie gathered, he made a small pyramid ready to be lit. Daddy struck the match, and the cold snuffed it out right away. He tried again and the same thing, the match went out.
“It’s always harder to start a fire in the winter,” he said to Wynnie.
Adding some paper brought from home, Daddy tried again. This time, the paper caught fire, then the twigs caught fire. Daddy added bigger twigs and then some small branches. Soon the fire was big enough to start roasting and toasting. By this time, the camp fire was throwing a nice heat as well.
“Can I put these on the fire?” asked Wynnie. There was Wynnie standing with an armful of wet wood. Daddy appreciated her help, but he knew that wet wood wouldn’t help to keep the fire going. In fact, wet wood could put the fire out. Daddy gently explained that wet wood wouldn’t be a good idea
“Let me try,” asked Wynnie, please?” “Well, you watch what happens,” Daddy replied. So Daddy took a piece of wet wood and put it on the fire. As the steam rose and the fire sputtered, Daddy said, “See, Wynnie? The fire nearly went out. So that’s not a good idea. Wynne slowly dropped her armful of wet wood, and said, “I’m hungry. Can we eat now?”
The winter picnic was soon ready to be served on the picnic table as the heat from the outdoor fire reached two happy people. Then Daddy spread the sunflower seeds on the other end of the table. It was like all the chickadees in the neighborhood heard the announcement ‘Dinner is ready’ and flew in to enjoy their winter picnic.
That night, as Wynnie was being tucked into bed, Daddy wanted to talk about the winter picnic. They talked about the chickadees that came to the table. Wynnie asked if they could go again. Daddy said he liked building the fire.
“Yes, we can go again.” After a pause, Daddy said “Do you remember, Wynnie, when we put wet wood on the fire? What happened?”
“I saw lots of steam and the fire, it sputtered, but it didn’t go out” she offered.
‘That’s right.” said Daddy, “but the fire nearly went out. And when you or I get cross or upset, it’s like putting wet wood on a warm fire. It doesn’t help. It spoils the fire. Love is like a fire. Love is warm, happy, and caring. In fact, we all need love to be truly happy. So we never put wet wood on a warm fire.”
“Good night, darling.”
“Good night, Daddy.”