“Grace!” a young boy’s voice flew up the stairs. “We’re all waiting for you.”
In her room, where she was absorbed in the letter she was writing, Grace Reid heard her eleven-year-old brother Joseph’s call and laid down her pen. The letter would have to wait; it was time for the Reid family’s monthly picnic.
Grace pulled on her sandals and put her blonde hair back into a ponytail. Then she scooted down the stairs to the kitchen.
“Just in time to help,” her older sister Hope said. “Grace, will you mix this lemonade? Faith is bagging up the cookies. I need to get my camera, and then I think we’ll be ready.”
“Sure, I’ll do that.” Grace stirred vigorously until all the mix was dissolved. Then she poured the pitcher of lemonade into the drink dispenser and screwed on the lid. “Where are Dad and Sam?” she asked her mother.
“They are loading lawn chairs,” Mrs. Reid answered. “Oh, here comes Sam now. He can carry the cooler out, Joseph can get the picnic basket, and I think we’ll be ready.”
Once everything was mounded in the bed of the pickup truck, the five Reid children climbed in and found seats around it. The girls crowded onto the toolbox. Samuel sat on the side and only grinned when Hope cautioned, “Don’t fall off.” Joseph joined Samuel on the side, but quickly vacated to the floor of the bed, after being told first by Hope then by Mrs. Reid that it was too dangerous.
At the last minute, S’mores, the German Shepherd, joined the pickup bed party, just before Mr. Reid slammed the tailgate shut. Then he and Mrs. Reid climbed into the cab and they slowly made their way down the bumpy dirt track that led to the pond at the back of their property.
“So, what’s for lunch?” Samuel asked once the chairs and folding picnic table were set up.
“Hamburgers!” Joseph answered, smacking his lips. “I smelled them cooking.”
The girls and Mrs. Reid set out the lunch fixings on the table, removing lids and adding utensils.
“Where are the hamburger patties?” Hope asked. “I can’t find them.”
“In that pan,” Faith pointed.
“That’s what I thought too, but it’s empty. Mom, did you put the hamburgers in something else?”
“No, that’s what they were in when Joseph carried them to the truck,” Mrs. Reid answered.
“Well, they’re gone then,” Hope declared. She looked suspiciously toward her younger brother. “Joey, do you know what happened to them?”
“Nope. They made it safely to the truck.” He grinned saucily. “I didn’t even break any pieces off.”
“Then where did they go?” wondered Grace, looking all around as though she expected to see the missing hamburgers out on the pond or up in the trees.
“Maybe they spilled,” Mrs. Reid suggested. “Samuel, will you check the bed, please?”
Samuel sprinted the short distance to the truck and looked into the bed. One quick glance showed there were no hamburgers in it. “They’re not here,” he called to the others.
“Are any of you playing a practical joke?” Mr. Reid asked, only half-serious.
“Hmm,” Joseph mused. “I wonder if that is what S’mores was chewing on, on the ride here. I just thought it was a stick.”
Everyone turned to look at the dog, who was lying under an oak tree, peacefully napping.
“He looks contented,” Hope commented. “Normally, he would be begging.”
“I think that’s what happened,” Mrs. Reid agreed. “Well, we can still have potato salad, baked beans, and dessert for our picnic lunch.”
Once the rest of the food was ready, Mr. Reid asked the blessing, and they all fixed their plates.
“Oh look,” Faith called out as she reached for her cup of iced tea, pointing with her free hand. “The ducklings have hatched.”
Out on the pond swam the white father and mother duck, followed by eight fluffy yellow ducklings.
“They’re so cute,” Grace exclaimed. “Oh, the parents are teaching them how to dive.”
“It’s amazing how God designed ducks and other animals with the ability to teach these things to their offspring,” said Mr. Reid. “They know what they are supposed to do, and they do just that.”
“Yes, He designed them well,” Mrs. Reid agreed.
Samuel remarked dryly, as he went back for a second helping of baked beans, “S’mores should have been designed to know not to eat our hamburgers,” a comment which made everyone laugh and agree.
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