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LTYBH–Swizzler’s Picnic

This memorable picnic occurs in book eight, Dancing in the Wind (not yet published). In the summer of 2016, Charlie informed me that we were going to have a picnic race. To confirm that I heard him correctly, I asked, “A picnic race?”



I don’t know if you’ve ever watched the comedy skits that George Burns and Gracie Allen did, but the following conversation helped me to realize that I usually play the straight man (George’s role) for Charlie’s role (Gracie). Charlie is not addle-headed like Gracie was, of course, but the situations I encounter with my wunderkind child often have the flavor of the absurd. I almost always find myself in the position of trying to keep up with him, and it is impossible.


“Yes, all the food is going to run from us and we have to get it and put it back in our baskets.”

“What food is going to be running?”

“We have cake slices with legs. We’re going to blow our whistles and then all the cakes will run. Their legs will carry them fast. There are oranges and apples and sandwiches and things that will go in all directions to try to get away from us. You have to have everything that was in your basket back into your basket to win and you can’t eat anything until it is all back in your basket. Even the picnic blankets and baskets will be running, so you have to catch the basket first. Liponie said that once everything is back in the basket, it becomes food with no legs.”

I’m praying that this activity only involves the Swizzlers. As much as I love cake, I don’t think I could eat a piece that previously was running away from me on a pair of legs. I’m extremely grateful when Charlie corroborates that only the Swizzlers will be catching food. Everyone else will be watching from “stands that are grand.”


The next time I am at the council, I ask Charlie how the picnic turned out. He says it was a little bit of a success but nobody could get all the food back in their basket. Plus, it was a little unnerving to see sandwiches and other foods running around. (I bet!)

“It scared the kids and they screamed. So Papa said no and we made all the food be still. I wanted to have ants because if you’re gonna have a picnic you have to have ants. We had to get the ants and grass off the food before we could eat anything. It was a little bit of a mess, but not bad.”


I keep my mouth closed and do not say it sounds like the picnic from hell. Worse is yet to come. Charlie says that after they made the legs disappear, they left lips and eyes on one sandwich. The lips were necessary to enable the sandwich to sing “Yellow Submarine.” Charlie explains that the Swizzlers chose that song because it was so repetitive that it was an easy one to teach the sandwich. It was the “luck of the draw” that Helena was the person who got the singing sandwich.

“She squealed and threw it on the ground and it got dirty again.”  (She’s a braver woman than I am. I don’t think I could have stomped on anything that had eyes and lips, but, I would have run far, far away.)

I ask Charlie if he is sure Helena has forgiven him. He answers that she was happy about the song but she didn’t want to eat the sandwich. To make amends, he gave her a strawberry (no lips) and she was happy. I’m really happy I didn’t get the sandwich.




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