It was a beautiful day in Fairwood Forest, the sun was shining down, a cool breeze was blowing and the sky was a clear blue dotted with cotton candy clouds. Miss Rosie the Wise Old Owl looked out her door and said, “Thank you Lord for such a fine day. I think I will take a walk through the forest and enjoy your handiwork. Why it is the perfect day for a picnic.”
So Miss Rosie went back inside to her closet and pulled out a medium wooden basket. She carried it to her kitchen and loaded it 2 huge loaves of bread, a tub of churned butter, a jar of homemade strawberry jam, a jar of homemade peach jam, a fresh apple pie, and some dried figs she had received as a gift that week. Miss Rosie then pulled a large checkered tablecloth from a drawer and placed it gently over the items in the basket, covering them completely.
“It was so nice of Polly Camel to send me these figs,” she thought. “I will have to send her a jar of her favorite apricot marmalade when I make some next week.”
Miss Rosie picked up her basket, went outside and climbed down to the path. Pausing for a moment, she decided to walk towards the church. As she neared the church, she spotted Pearl Eagle outside playing.
Pearl looked over and waved, “Hi Miss Rosie,” she said, “are you going on a picnic?”
“Why yes I am dear, I was thinking of asking your family to join me, It is such a lovely day to be outside enjoying God’s beauty.”
Pearl squealed excitedly and ran inside the house. Shortly she returned followed by her big brother Aaron along with Pastor and Mrs. Eagle. Pastor Eagle was carrying a basket like Miss Rosie’s. Pearl and Aaron ran over to help Miss Rosie with her basket, with Aaron holding it and Pearl grabbing at one corner.
“Miss Rosie I packed two carp that Aaron caught yesterday and a jar of my prized pickles,” said Mrs. Eagle.
“I helped make the pickles,” chimed in Pearl. “I picked and washed all the cucumbers.”
“And I’m sure you did a very good job of it too,” said Miss Rosie with a smile.
Together they all set off down the path looking for the perfect place to eat. They went down by the big oak tree but Pearl said it was to shady. They went down by the river, but Mrs. Eagle was worried one of the children would fall in. Then they found a small clearing, halfway between the river and the children’s clubhouse. It was perfect, just enough shade, a cool breeze blowing over brightly colored flowers and close to the brook fed by the spring in the clubhouse.
Pearl and Aaron set down the basket and Miss Rosie pulled out the checkered tablecloth. Smoothing it out she placed it on the ground and had Pearl and Aaron put rocks on the corners to hold it. She then pulled out the bread, jellies, butter and figs and placed them in the center. Mrs. Eagle then pulled her prize pickles out her basket and then the two fish. These she set next to the bread.
Handing a pitcher to Pearl, she told her to bring back some spring water from the brook. Aaron she asked to make sure Miss Rosie was comfortable.
As Pearl was heading back from the brook, Mr. and Mrs. Bear came walking by followed by Gladly Bear and his little sister Suzanne Bear. Spotting Miss Rosie they came over to greet her and the Eagles. Miss Rosie invited the Bears to join them in their picnic. At that moment there was a crashing in the bushes and out barreled Jeff Chipmunk, followed by Robbie Mallard.
“I WIN!!!!!!,” crowed Jeff. “I AM THE FASTEST IN THE WHOLE FOREST!”
“You didn’t win yet,” replied Robbie. “We are not at the clubhouse yet.”
“What?” cried Jeff, “Well it won’t matter as I will still get there first.”
At that, Jeff and Robbie barreled off towards the clubhouse.
No sooner had they left though when Victoria Mallard, Hannah Rabbit and her little sister Hayley Rabbit stepped out of the bushes. Watching Robbie and Jeff run off, Victoria sighed.
“There they go again,” sighed Victoria. “I suppose we will have follow them again. I think they only have one speed, if Robbie isn’t running then he is asleep. Oh, hello Miss Rosie, hello Pastor Eagle, Mrs. Eagle how are you today?.”
“They are just going to the fort Victoria,” said Pastor Eagle. “You can see it from here, besides we were just about to sit down to lunch. Why don’t you girls join us.”
Pastor Eagle called over Pearl, who had decided to go chase butterflies. Pearl cane over and sat next to Hayley. The two of them immediately started talking and giggling to each other. Pastor Eagle shushed them and prepared to give the blessing over the food.
But before he could pray, he was interrupted by the loudest noise he had ever heard. Looking towards the sound, he saw a large crowd of children exiting the clubhouse and running their way. The children were yelling and cheering as they ran, creating a loud ruckus.
Jeff Chipmunk was first to reach them, shortly followed by Robbie Mallard, Bryan Skunk and Emma Muskrat. Then the rest of the children arrived and the clearing was swarming with excited, screaming cubs.
Dalton Bobcat ran over and gave Miss Rosie a hug, while Heather Polecat joined Hayley and Pearl. Jesse Polecat went over to greet Gladly Bear and soon the two of them were happily chatting away. Pastor Eagle looked around at the throng of cubs, over 30 in all, and smiled.
“Childen,” he said. “We were just about to have a picnic out here. You are all welcome to join us and share what we have. We will stretch it somehow.”
Gladly Bear looked at the bread and said, “Miss Rosie, I know where there is some honey nearby. That would go good with the bread.”
Jesse Polecat chimed in, “We have fishing poles in the clubhouse, we can catch some more fish. Come on Mallard you can help me”
Benjamin Squirrel jumped up and said, “Jeff Chipmunk and I know of some good nut trees, we can go gather some for the picnic. There is also a good apple tree by the clubhouse.”
Victoria Mallard piped up, “We have more dishes and some baskets in the clubhouse. You can use this in the food gathering. And look there is a whole field of dandelions over there. We can use those to make a nice healthy salad.”
So Victoria Mallard and Hannah Rabbit gathered a group of the younger kids and led them to the clubhouse for supplies. Soon all the children were out gathering food from the forest for their picnic feast.
About an hour later Jesse Polecat and Robbie Mallard returned. Between them they carried a stout vine, on the vine were strung 2 large salmon and 7 medium largemouth bass. Behind them came Joshua Beaver and his little sister Lizzy Beaver carrying wood to make fire. Quickly they stripped some branches to hold the fish and started a crackling fire. Soon the smell of freshly cooked fish wafted over the clearing.
Jeff Chipmunk came running up with a bag full of walnuts, spilling them as he bounced around excitedly showing them off. Benjamin Squirrel followed him picking up the walnuts as he went. He was carrying two sacks, one for the walnuts and one full of ripe red apples.
Gladly Bear and Bryan Skunk showed up sniffing the air and licking their lips. Both of them were carrying jars from the clubhouse which they had filled with pure golden honey. Gladly must have approved of the honey for a trickle of honey ran down the side of his mouth.
Soon the rest of the children returned. Suzanne Bear and Jessica Fox had large piles of dishes which the placed on the tablecloth. Little Andrea Skunk carried a basket that was almost as large as her. It was filled to the brim with tasty dandylion greens. Gracie Raccoon carried a basket full of flower petals for the salad.
There was spicy marigold petals, sweet carnation petals, green clover, tasty cornflower and day lillies sitting in the basket. Tied in small bundles on top were stalks of wild chive and stems of wild thyme. Hannah Rabbit carried a wide shallow bowl full of water. Floating on top were some water lillies. This she placed in the center as a decoration.
Pastor Eagle called for quiet and once the cubs had settled down he said the blessing over the food. Mrs. Bear then started slicing the bread and passing it around, Miss Rosie started serving up the fish. Shrly everyone was contentedly munching on their meal. LiLi wren ate 3 whole slices of Miss Rosie’s bread with lots of sticky jam on top. Mrs. Bear looked down, licked a paw and used it to wipe honey from LiLi’s face.
When everyone had eaten all that they could, they gathered up the leftovers and packed them in the baskets. Miss Rosie’s jam was all gone but they placed a jar of honey in her basket along with the last few slices of bread. They also packed one of the bass and a pile of the greens for her. Then they started filling the other baskets. By the time they done, 3 baskets were full of leftover food.
Pastor Eagle looked at the baskets of food and said, “Oh my, we are leaving with more than we brought. Two baskets of food and we still managed to feed this hungry hoard.”
“Why Pastor Eagle,” said Miss Rosie, “Doesn’t this remind you of a story from the Bible? I know it reminds me of one. I wonder if the cubs would like to hear it.”
All the kids shouted out a loud YES, so Miss Rosie sat down and began to tell the story,
“ Jesus had just gotten some bad news about John The Baptist children and that made him sad.
When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.’
Jesus replied, ‘They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.’
‘We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,’ they answered.
‘Bring them here to me,’ he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.”
Miss Rosie found this story in Matthew 14: 13- 21