Once again the forest critters gathered, and for a short time they had an understanding that no one was to eat anyone else. The gathering was held near the edge of the forest, in a meadow. Beyond the meadow, the forest gave way to open land, farms, and orchards. Their distant relatives had the use of the open land for grazing, and had sent a representative to the meeting. The denizens of the farms were depending on the grazers for representation. Overhead, a few hawks circled lazily, keeping watch from the air. Closer to ground, the foxes and coyotes kept watch.
Raven, an old coyote, a large cud-chewing grazer named Daisy, a great stag who answered to Bambi, and a number of the smaller critters stood in a circle.
“Hunters are still an issue” grumbled Bambi. “I understand they are part of the larger plan, but they did kill my parents in a wanton act.”
“You can’t judge all humans by that” warned Daisy. “They care well for my people, and guard us from him and his kind.” She nodded at Coyote, obviously unclear on the fine distinctions among the various Canidae present.
“Humans are useful servants.”
“Who said that?” asked Daisy?
“Oh, there’s cats present. Figures.”
“Humans, Hunters all,” grumbled Bambi.
“No, not all. And even among the hunters there are good and bad,” said Raven. “I’ve lived on the edges of their fires for a long time, and tempted them and taught them. They can be taught.”
Many of the critters chuckled at that.
“Heard about that snowman incident,” said the cat. “Just who taught who?”
Raven didn’t feel obliged to reply to that.
The horse spoke up, “There’s always apples.”
“Letting your stomach lead you around again, are we?” scoffed Coyote.
“No. Humans set great credence to stories. Several stories feature apples symbolic of ideas. Sometimes they are the forbidden fruit eaten despite warnings. Sometimes they are tempting but poisoned. Sometimes they are the wisdom of the gods. And sometimes they are just a snack. Which also sounds like a good idea about now. Where’s the snacks?”
“We didn’t arrange for apples, silly horse,” grumbled the cat.
“But there might a germ of an idea here” opined Raven. “Apples are deeply symbolic to them. Perhaps we can distract them with Apples. If not the fruit, then perhaps just the idea of the fruit. Or just an image of the fruit. A word in the right ear at the right moment could do the trick.”
“The last time you tried that, all we got was a recording company that owned the rights to some humans from across the pond. Named for some crunchy insect.”
“But maybe we should try it again. Perhaps that wild genius puttering in his friend’s garage down in the valley…”