"What a gorgeous day for a picnic," exclaimed Spunky as she bustled around the
kitchen. She had just removed a perfectly browned peach pie from the oven and set it on the open
windowsill to cool. Now she had to clean up the kitchen and wash the dirty dishes. Just as she
stuck her hooves into the hot, sudsy water, the door swung open and a very sad-faced Oakly
entered the room.
"Why so glum?" asked Spunky, smiling at her antlered friend.
Oakly groaned. "I had picked a big bunch of sweetcorn early this morning so we
could eat it at our picnic. By then I was so warm and sweaty, I took a shower. Now when I went
out to the garden to fetch the ears, they were gone!"
"Gone?" questioned Spunky. "Maybe Zig Zag brought it in for you."
"That's what I hoped had happened," sighed Oakly. "But I asked, and she didn't
"Well, let's have another look," said Spunky as she headed out the door. On the
way to the garden, they met Zig Zag who was definitely not in a good mood.
"This is disgusting," Zig Zag spat out. "I left my freshly picked strawberries for five
minutes to look around the corn patch for Oakly's missing corn, only to find," and here Zig Zag
stomped her hoof, "nothing. No corn, and no strawberries when I got back to the berry
"You've got to be kidding," both Spunky and Oakly exclaimed at the same
"I wish I were kidding," Zig Zag angrily answered. "All my back-breaking labor
wasted on nothing."
After circling the corn patch and the strawberry patch one more time, the three
friends returned to the kitchen.
"Cheer up, everyone," said Spunky. "At least we still have the peach pie to eat at
the picnic." And she flourished her hoof toward the windowsill-- toward a very empty
"Yikes!" screeched Spunky. "My pie!" She ran to the window, looking down to
the ground in hopes of seeing the pie sitting there. But there was no sign of her beautiful
"What's happening around here?" she asked of Oakly and Zig Zag, as a tear slowly
slid down her pretty face.
"What are you guys doing standing around on this wonderful picnic day?" asked
Kingsley as he arrived with a huge plate full of chocolate-chip cookies. "Let's get the food
packed and be on our way."
"Yeah, let's move!" called Edgar from beyond the door. He was carrying an ice-cold
jug of lemonade in his trunk.
Cha Cha entered the kitchen carrying a yummy-smelling spicecake with cream
cheese frosting, followed by Creamsicle with her flaky crescent rolls, and Cutesaurus with a
watermelon shell heaped high with melon balls, green and purple grapes, blueberries, and orange
The newcomers stopped short when they saw the gloomy faces of Spunky, Zig Zag,
and Oakly. Kingsley laid a gentle paw across Zig Zag's back and queried, "What's wrong
Oakly was the first to speak. "Someone has taken the strawberries, the corn, and
the pie that we had for the picnic." Spunky and Zig Zag nodded in agreement.
Cutesaurus gaped in amazement. "If someone took the food, that means we have a
thief about! That can't be possible."
"Well, if it's not a thief, out food disappeared into thin air," Spunky bitterly
"Did you see any signs of who might have done this?" questioned Cha Cha.
"Nothing to see," pouted Zig Zag. "Our food was just gone."
"It won't hurt to look again," philosophized Kingsley. "Where did the theft
"My pie was on the open windowsill," said Spunky, brightening a bit at the thought
that maybe something could be done to solve the mystery. "But you can see that there is no clue
to help us."
"Hmm," murmured Kingsley as he peered closely at the windowsill. "There is
something here. He turned, holding some short, black hairs. "These were stuck on a nail; any
idea what or who they came from?"
"Well, none of us, that's for sure," giggled Cha Cha.
"Let's go down to the corn field," instructed Cutesaurus. "Maybe we will have
more luck there."
So the entire group headed to the garden, to search for some sign to help them, but
to no avail. There was nothing at either the corn patch or the strawberry bed to point them in the
"We can't do anything more for now," said Edgar. "Shouldn't we just go on our
picnic as planned? We still have a fair amount of food to eat. Can't waste this beautiful
So with the food in hand and a large picnic basket full of accessories, the Pony
Friends headed for their favorite picnic spot-- a level, grassy area along the Shimmering Stream.
It was a perfect spot with the creek to swim in, and the grassy area was backed by tall, shady
trees. Flowering bushes in pink and purple dotted the landscape; and butterflies bustled from
flower to flower, adding their delicate charm to the scene.
Spunky immediately opened the picnic basket and drew out the red and white
checkered table cloth which she and Oakly laid on the grass. Creamsicle set out the plates,
glasses, and flatware. The food was set on the center of the cloth.
"How about a swim before we eat?" suggested Zig Zag. "Last one in is a rotten
With screams and peals of laughter, the eight friends headed full-speed for the
stream, aptly named for the shimmering ripples reflecting the sunbeams. Creamsicle was the first
to jump in and Cutesaurus teasingly argued with Edgar over which of them had been the last to
make it into the refreshing water. They all had a rollicking time swimming, splashing, diving, and
floating-- enjoying each other's company as the best of friends.
"My stomach's growling," Kingsley finally shouted. "Who's ready to eat?"
It was unanimous that the time had come to enjoy the main purpose for this picnic--
So with appetites ready for the best, they headed to the eating area. Edgar was in the front (it
was amazing how fast he could move when food was involved) when he suddenly stopped,
causing a domino-effect back-up of bodies. Edgar bellowed, "Where's the food?" And everyone
stared in amazement. The cloth was still on the ground; so were the plates and the glasses and the
flatware. But the food, their tasty meal, was gone!
"I don't believe this," sputtered Spunky. "Who can be behind this?"
At that instant, Kingsley sprang toward the trees. "I'm sure I saw something move
over behind those bushes. Let's check it out!"
So as if one unit, they headed to the spot Kingsley indicated. As they looked
around the bushes, Cha Cha called out, "Here's a cresent roll! Whoever it was, they came this
Further into the trees, Oakly found another roll. She grinned sheepishly, "Isn't this
the way Hansel and Gretel marking their path? I hope we don't run into any witches!"
Kingsley took over the lead. With his acute sense of smell, he could follow the
scent of the stolen food. It led them deeper and deeper into the forest; the trees became thicker as
they went, and they had to dodge branches and vines.
But unexpectedly, the dense trees opened up into a small, grassy clearing; the Pony
Friends spilled out onto it like water from a spout. And then they stopped, wide-eyed in
At the edge of the clearing loomed a huge, ancient oak tree and under its spreading
branches sat a family of racoons surrounded by the missing food. But these were no ordinary
raccoons-- everyone knows raccoons are brown with black masks and black tail stripes. And
these furry animals did indeed have black masks and stripes, but no brown for them. The daddy
racoon was splendid in aqua fur; mommy was elegantly clad in purple. And the three cubs were
enough to rival the rainbow (or an Easter egg) for one was pink, one was yellow, and one was
"Well, I'll be..." was all Kingsley could say. The friends stared at the raccoons, and
the raccoons stared back.
Finally, Cutesaurus found her voice. "Excuse me, but I think that's our food you're
preparing to eat."
All eyes dropped to survey the array of food-- Spunky's pie, Zig Zag's strawberries,
Oakly's corn, Cha Cha's cake, Edgar's lemonade, Creamsicle's rolls (what were left), Cutesaurus'
fruit, and Kingsley's cookies.
The daddy raccoon stood up and walked bravely to face the friends. "I'm sorry if
this food belongs to you and I guess it was wrong to take it without asking, but we are new to
these parts and couldn't find food to eat. We just took what we came across."
Mommy raccoon came and stood beside her mate. "Please don't be angry," she
pleaded. "We were very hungry; we didn't mean any harm."
By now the three little ones has shyly joined their parents, and Zig Zag reached out
slowly to touch the blue baby. "Isn't he precious?" she cooed.
At that Creamsicle sat down by the pink one and touched her fur. "So soft," she
Oakly gently nuzzled the yellow baby. "I've never seen such fluffy little creatures,
except maybe Tabby's cat, Callie," she softly said.
Kingsley cleared his throat. "We are very glad to meet any new family that comes
our way, and you certainly are welcome to share our food. However," and here he turned and
winked at the Pony Friends, "we should do this up right. Spunky, you and Zig Zag run back and
get the picnic cloth and supplies. Edgar and I will get a fire going to roast that corn. We'll have
our picnic yet. And five new friends to share it with!"
Mr. and Mrs. Raccoon smiled gratefully and gathered their cubs safely out of range
of the campfire. Everyone quickly did his or her part to get this long overdue meal prepared.
Before they finally sat down to eat, formal introductions were made (Mr. and Mrs. Raccoon were
known as Stripes and Princess; their yellow baby was named Bumble-- he did resemble a fat
yellow and black bumblebee; the pink baby was Satin; and the blue baby boy was Rebel-- he had
an independent spirit) and thanks was properly given.
"Yes, it was a gorgeous day for a picnic," murmured Spunky contentedly as they
finished off the last morsels of food. "What better than five new friends to make it simply