It was not all work and no play in the 19th century Wild West. One of the cheapest and most enjoyable past time was picnicking.
A family would wake up hours earlier than usual to get the chores of the day out of the way. Then, to the excitement of the children, it was time to leave. Horseback was the best mode of travel, over valleys and hills covered with sage bush.
Father would be in the lead, a child or two riding with him, and mother following on her own horse. The children would be chattering away, and for once, the lines of exhaustion etched on the Pa and Ma’s faces would have softened.
As they climbed the mountain, they left the stifling summer heat behind and the air became clearer. Ma would belt out a tune and the whole family would join in. Sage chicken, startled, would jump from the bushes, making the younger children giggle.
Finally, they would stop in a patch where the grass was as soft as a carpet. Cottonwood provided a welcome shade and a creek nearby a fresh supply of trout. Grasshoppers provided the bait and a birch pole the fishing rod. Father would sit on a stone, flanked by his sons dangling the rod in the creek water. He would fish only what the family needed.
Soon, the delicious smell of trout frying in butter rends the air. Meanwhile, the children gather service berries and when they return the meal is ready. After cleaning off their picnic lunch, the family head to the creek and using their cupped hands as bowls, they drink fresh water from the creek.
The afternoon is spent in play for the children, while Ma and Pa share a rare quiet moment, without chores that need to be attended to.
The sun goes down and it’s time to head back home, tired but rejuvenated for another week of hard, backbreaking work on the farm.