Good morning,” he cried heartily. “Elnora, you look a picture! My, but you’re sweet! If any of them city boys get sassy you tell your Uncle Wesley, and he’ll horsewhip them. Here’s your Christmas present form me.” He handed Elnora the leather lunch box, with her name carved across the strap in artistic letter.
”Oh, Uncle Wesley!” and that was all Elnora could say.
“Your Aunt Maggie filled it for me for a starter,” he said. “Now, if you are ready, I’m going to drive past your way and you can ride almost to Onabasha with me, and save the new shores that much.”
Elnora was staring at the box. “Oh, I hope it isn’t impolite to open it before you,” she said. “I just feel as if I must see inside.”
“Don’t you stand on no formality with the neighbors,” laughed Sinton. “Look at your box if you want to!”
Elnora slipped the strap and turned back the lid.
This disclosed the knife, fork, napkin, and spoon, the milk flask, and the interior packed with dainty sandwiches wrapped in tissue paper, and the little compartments for meat, salad, and the custard cup.
“Oh, mother!” cried Elnora. “Oh, mother, isn’t it fine? What made you think of it, Uncle Wesley? How will I ever thank you? No one will have a finer lunch box than I. Oh, I do thank you! That’s the nicest gift I ever had. How I love Christmas in September!” 1
The above excerpt is from Gene Stratton-Porter’s novel “A Girl of The Limberlost.” The author goes into great detail describing Elnora’s lunch box and it’s contents, all specially wrapped in tissue paper, tucked gently in their own compartments, the linen napkin, the porcelain dishes, and milk glass. I read this novel two years in a row to my Botany students, and as a class, we were captivated by her lunch box, so much so that each student had decided that they too would like a lunch box just as Elnora’s. Even the boys- secretly.
On one of his business trips, Himself spotted a vendor with woven market baskets. He sent me a message with a photo of the booth, and said “pick one or two.”
“I like the blue and tan market basket, and that teeny tiny red and blue basket, front left,” I wrote back. I have that little basket now and have found that it is the most lovely way to carry my Mason Jar lunches or snacks about town. It’s as if I am on Holiday back in Europe again, riding along paths through sunflower fields, my basket firmly attached to my bicycle’s handlebars filled with goodies for a rest on a park bench or a picnic by the stream. Some may call it a bit twee for their taste, but it wonders me how little touches, such as a cloth napkin in my lunch basket, with a bit of chocolate, a large fresh strawberry, roasted grapes, and a jar of mint cucumber sparkling water can make a regular day feel unexpectedly and aimlessly blissful.
1Stratton-Porter, Gene. A Girl of The Limberlost. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984.
What does your lunch box look like? Please post a photo of it on my facebook wall- let’s start a gallery of lunchboxes from all over the world.