Animal Council

muskrat tracksProceedings of the Animal Council as recorded by Twinkle Loblolly, Camp Elf

The meeting was scheduled for sunset, but it began late as usual because Oba the Owl overslept. Oba almost always oversleeps, but the meeting couldn’t begin without her since she is the council president. The council is made up of many types of animals (and one elf), but the president and presiding judge is always an Owl since everyone knows owls are wise.

The other animals knew Oba and weren’t surprised by her late appearance. They passed the time sharing snacks and the latest gossip from the woods.

The Camp Fletcher Animal Council meets once every 28 days at an undisclosed location to discuss matters of mutual interest and to occasionally arbitrate disputes between animals. The meeting is always held on the night of the new moon. That’s when the night is darkest and humans are least likely to interrupt or interfere. There was a bigger than usual crowd this time because of the exciting case on the agenda, and hundreds of sets of eyes formed a large circle around Oba as she stood on the council stump and called the meeting to order.

The first order of business was finalizing plans for the annual animal dance. The songbirds lobbied for the dance to be held during the day when they were most awake and insisted this year’s dance include a singalong which they would lead. Oba and the other nocturnal animals objected, saying they would be fast asleep and miss the dance if took place in daylight. Since the Animal Dance is the highlight of the social season at Camp Fletcher, no one wanted to sleep through it.

“We’ve held the dance at night for three years in a row,” complained Marty Mockingbird, the leader of the songbird coalition. “It’s only fair that it be held during the day this time,” he added as the robins and cardinals and sparrows tweeted affirmation.

The nocturnals (animals who like to be awake in the night) then made a motion to eliminate the the singalong from the dance program. They didn’t really mind the idea of a singalong, they were just being ornery. Even the nocturnal animals like the music the songbirds make, truth be told, and some nocturnals such as owls and foxes are proud of their own singing voices and looked forward to joining in the singalong. They were only objecting because it seemed the songbirds were getting their way, and they were grumpy about that.

Eventually ruffled feathers were soothed, the plans for the dance were finalized and the main order of business was taken up.

Peppy the raccoon was building a dam across a creek at Camp Fletcher to make it easier for him to fish for crawfish and minnows. Crawfish and minnows were some of Peppy’s favorite snacks, but Peppy liked to eat lots of other things too.

Sandy the water turtle (a red eared slider) brought the partially completed dam to the Animal Council because Peppy’s new dam would force her to leave the safety of the creek and go around it every time she wanted to go upstream to visit her relatives.

Sandy wanted to testify, but Oba stopped her right away.  Oba pointed out that everyone already knew why she was upset and turtles speak so slowly that it would take her all night for Sandy to tell her side of the story. Hundreds of eyes bobbed up and down in agreement in the dark forest.

Barney the beaver testified as an expert witness on dam building. He said Peppy’s dam was an example of “shoddy workmanship. No self-respecting beaver would ever make a dam that was as ugly as the one Peppy is building. It’s not a proper dam in any sense of the word,” he said. Barney offered his services to the council to demolish the partially completed eyesore.

Marion the muskrat testified that there were plenty of minnows to go around, and that any raccoon who couldn’t catch his fill of minnows from that creek, even without a dam, was both a terrible fisherman and a poor sportsanimal.

Gertrude the green water snake said she didn’t understand what all the fuss was about, but since Gertrude is just as happy in or out of the water, nobody paid much attention to her.

The council grew quiet when it was finally Peppy’s turn to speak. Peppy is a very dramatic raccoon, and he addressed the council with tears in his eyes and anguish in his voice. He had to have the dam to feed his children, and he didn’t want the members of the council to feel guilty about starving his poor little raccoon babies.

Some of the animals were moved by Peppy’s testimony and no one wanted starving raccoon babiles on their consciences. It looked like the decision  might go his way. Oba blinked twice and fluffed her feathers in the way owls do. She stood there completely silent for a long moment before rendering her verdict. “Peppy, you make quite a case,” Oba began, “but it’s not a good case. First of all, your children can’t starve because you’re a bachelor raccoon, and you don’t have any children.” Peppy started to bluster that he was referring to his future children, but Oba cut him off.

Secondly, you are already a very fat raccoon. You always seem to have plenty to eat without having a dam as a private fishing preserve. Finally, Barney is right that it’s a lousy dam. I flew by your dam last night and it’s the ugliest thing in these woods for miles around.  I rule that dam building at Camp Fletcher is only for beavers. Raccoons have no business taking on construction projects. Peppy, you are to apologize to Sandy immediately for inconveniencing her, and you are to help Barney dismantle your dam.

With that Oba flew off into the night and the council was dismissed.

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