In their little village they were the "wise ones," called upon to help with the maintenance of their community. Every villager was co-dependent...leaning here, being leaned upon there and "wise ones" kept watch to make sure no one was left out, left wanting.
Over the ages, a wise one occasionally would die, or leave...the community would mourn together or celebrate together if the departure merited such. Sometimes a wise one's departure represented a new life, a new beginning...spreading the village values and the wise ones' wisdom.
The only true constants were an old oak table, the origins of which had been lost in time much as its edges had been worn away by the oil and moisture of the wise ones of days gone by, and by the juices of "the fruit."
Fruit was the little village's enterprise and sustenance. Everyone in the village worked the fields, or orchards. Children were born amid the fruit trees...men and women were buried beneath some too. So whenever the wise ones met to give consideration to the villages needs, to plan for each season and for the inevitable hard times, before them sat the fruit, nestled neatly in a hard wood bowl.
In the ancient days, the days of the first wise ones, the fruit was savored and shared as the wise ones conducted their business. This was, after all, the heart and soul of the little village. The fruit was always present and none would go to waste. The wise ones would sometimes boast of the beauty of each piece, every sliver was shared. Some years, the hard years, they would still devour the fruit even it wasn't as tasty or easy to swallow.
Even a bedraggled, sickly, lemon that barely survived a harsh growing season would be divided among the wise ones and enjoyed. The wise ones knew. They knew there was much to consider when it came to the villager's fruits and there were many times their community was at the mercy of things beyond their control...often beyond their comprehension....too much winter...too little winter...no rain....flooding, ceaseless downpours...harsh sunlight that seemed to squeeze and wilt the crops with a nasty vengeance.
The wise ones of old knew, even in the bitterest of times, they could find sweetness in the fruit. So they would consume the fruits, no matter the fruit's condition. Revel in each sliver or slice and occasionally sing praises for even the most meager of morsels for the fruits always seemed to be sufficient. As long as they had the fruits...the wise ones and the villagers were satisfied if not sated.
The tradition goes on to this day...at least the wise ones meet. The village is no longer the same though. As years and decades and centuries went by there were times when the village flourished and thrived, but at some point came a series of hard season after hard season after hard season. Some villagers died...many sought hope and sustenance elsewhere...even some wise ones departed with little fanfare.
But there were others to replace them and the wise ones meet still.
The once sharp edge of the old oak table became worn so thin at spots that occasionally a wise one would be stuck by a splinter. Something more modern was rolled in to replace it. The old oak table has been put in a back room or storage area so as not pose risk to children...or villagers with long memories.
In truth, for a brief while a few wise ones held tight to the table as a last vestige of the village that once was...reliant upon every individual for its very survival. But time intervened as always, and with each new season the grip on the table loosened as wise ones moved on and were replaced.
As the world changed the little village adapted. There are different crops grown in some areas now, some by villagers who have never even consulted with the wise ones or seen a need too. Some villagers don't know what the wise ones do at all.
People with different methods have started to reside in the village, some seemed to appear from no where, others were home grown like the fruit of old, but chose different paths, away from tradition...ways they see as more productive and less dependent on the whims and cruelty of nature...less reliant on other villagers.
Fruit is still harvested in a few areas, but it's certainly no longer the center of the village...the economic generator. The wise ones at some point came to see that...and accept it. Some have embraced it enthusiastically.
Most of the wise ones actually bring "bagged food" from strange places with funny smells to their meetings these days. There is no home cooking shared...that phase was so brief it never became tradition.
The wise ones have now come to enjoy sharing the variety of savory pleasures which can be found easily...bought...even delivered. No one has to climb a tree or spend a day in the fields in back breaking labor to put food on the shiny new table. It's easier this way now.
The wise ones don't have to focus at all on the fruits that were the center of their predecessor's world.
In fact, it's rare for the orchards, the fields, the season's planning to be mentioned by the wise ones at all.
It was so easy for it to happen...for it to be allowed to happen.
The world came trampling through the orchards bringing with it new flavors, new senses, new needs...and new beliefs.
And the fruit is now essentially ignored. If the old wooden bowl should make a rare appearance on the shiny new table, any fruit inside is considered "decoration" if it's considered at all. Certainly no one eats of it...it is left untouched, disregarded and forgotten. It is left to rot.
The change was so gradual, the little village never noticed. The villagers still trust the wise ones, and give no thought that some wise ones have lost their taste for the fruits which once filled their stomachs...and fed their souls.