Meet Little Red Bear and His Friends —
“Once upon a time in a very special woods . . . .”
Once upon a time, quite a number of years ago in the Ozarks Mountain Country of Missouri, when steam locomotives rumbled over the rails huff-chuffing along leaving puffy billows and clouds of smoke behind as they went, paddle-wheeled steamboats navigated their way past shifting sandbars in the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers with calliopes playing jaunty melodies to waving folk along the riverbanks, and farmers still relied on wagons, horses, and mules to work the land, there lived three bears.
The three bears were by no means the ordinary, average, or run-of-the-mill bears as most may be familiar with visiting in zoos and observing in nature documentaries today. Rather, they were quite remarkable. As it turns out . . . . uncommonly special.
The first bear was named Walter, but everyone called him Little Red Bear after an unfortunate run-in with a hive of angry bees one early spring afternoon. Not to be confused by the name ‘Red’, as his friends frequently shortened his nickname in conversation, his true color was more of a rusty, reddish-brown color. Kind of an orange, red, and brown all swirled, stirred, and smushed together. So, if after hearing ‘Red’ you had in mind the bright red color of a fire truck, you would be much closer thinking of a rusty old metal wagon in the yard over yonder. That’s Little Red Bear.
Little Red Bear lived in the log cabin he had built on Honey Hill, overlooking Hoppers Holler below, named for the large number of rabbit families who made their homes along Blackberry Creek, meandering aimlessly back and forth, zigging and zagging around boulders and rocky outcroppings from one end of Hoppers Holler to the other.
Little Red Bear had large vegetable and herb gardens, along with many fruit and nut trees. He allowed several rabbits and other assorted critters to make their homes and safely raise their families in the space beneath his cabin for protection against marauding packs of weasels, the scourge of the Ozarks Mountain Country backwoods.
In addition to being regarded as the top honey-gatherer in the mountains, Little Red Bear was equally famous for both the finely crafted bamboo fishing poles and for the flaky, buttery biscuits he made. The steaming hot biscuits drizzled over with plentiful amounts of sweet golden honey of course, and served with every meal. But for some reason, Little Red Bear never learned how to make a decent pie crust. Although he never stopped trying.
Little Red Bear was also known for his weekly Friday night fish fries when neighbors from all over the Tri-County area would bring their families, along with their own prepared dishes and dinner contributions to share for the potluck dinner each week. Everyone, old and young alike, looked forward to Friday nights and Little Red Bear’s fried fish, praised by all as “staggeringly good!”
The second bear was named Bobo. A black bear and somewhat larger than Little Red Bear in size, Bobo had retired following years of performing in “Barney’s Traveling Big Top Animal Circus and Sideshow” where his balancing feats were legendary. Bobo was widely renowned as ‘Bobo the Balancing Black Bear’ and he still liked to perform for folk whenever the opportunity presented itself. Bobo was rightly confident that he could juggle or balance just about anything tossed his way.
Little Red Bear and Bobo were the very best of friends, an interesting pairing with Little Red Bear being noticeably more calm and thoughtful, while Bobo could be, at times, a bit on the hot-tempered side and given to bouts of occasional grumpiness. But, to his credit, always one to be counted on whenever a problem or threat arose. Or, it must be said, a gathering of onlookers to entertain. Bobo was a trouper and showbear, thru and thru, and could never decline an opportunity to perform for a crowd.
Bobo the black bear was married to Lily, also a black bear retired from Barney’s Big Top circus. They had made an unexpected magical connection behind the circus tent following a performance years before when both had reached for a visitor’s discarded cotton candy at the same moment, touched paws, and had been together ever since. Lily walked away from the chance encounter not only with the cotton candy but also with Bobo’s heart. They are inseparable, and seldom is one seen without the other close by.
Not to be outdone, Lily also was known far and wide for her performing skills in the circus ring as ‘Lily the Dancing Black Bear’. Her graceful and charming dance performances, balletic in style, received rave reviews everywhere the circus traveled, with her most famous dancing maneuver still known as “The Lily Bear Twirl” to this day.
Unlike Little Red Bear, Lily was renowned for her exceptional pie making skills, rivaling that of Myra Cookson who operated ‘Myra Cookson’s Pie Pantry & Goodies Shoppe’ over in the nearby town of Butterfield. Lily’s special Autumn Spiced Buttermilk Pie was always the most acclaimed and requested at holiday gatherings. It should also be mentioned that Lily’s Persimmon, Gooseberry, Arkansas Black Apple, and Chess Pies were also award-winners at the Tri-County Fairgrounds over the years, along with her Elderberry Jam. No one could compete in the annual county pie rivalry between Lily and Myra, and few tried. Lily’s practice pies undoubtedly contributed to her husband Bobo being of noticeably larger girth than his friend, Little Red Bear, although Bobo always ascribed his ample waistline to “circus muscles”, with a “grruummpphh!” and snort to emphasize the point.
Lily and Bobo lived in their log cabin, not too far away from Little Red Bear’s cabin on Honey Hill, towards the western end of Hoppers Holler. The more secluded and wooded end. The eastern end of the holler, home to Little Red Bear on Honey Hill, was more open with meadows of tall grasses, clover, and wildflowers that rippled in the gentle summer breezes. Honeybees visited the clover and wildflowers to make honey, and as predictably as spring follows winter, Little Red Bear visited the bees.
One day, when traveling to his favorite fishing hole which he had named ‘Perch Lake’ because of all the tasty yellow perch fish swimming about in it, Little Red Bear had come across a small young bear, scarcely a year old and certainly not ready or large enough to be independent, or to be out on his own or alone yet. The little bear had been trying unsuccessfully to catch a fish, was very thin, ragged in appearance, ravenously hungry, and appearing in every way clearly the worse for wear. His name was Cinnamon Charlie, and his coat color was a brownish cinnamony color.
Upon learning about how he had been left by his mother and aware that young bears struggle mightily on their own with many not surviving, Little Red Bear befriended Cinnamon Charlie, gave him a home, and took him under his wing to look after, guide, teach, and instruct him in the ways of the world. And fishing.
Cinnamon Charlie was delighted to have a roof over his head, regular meals once again, and a comfortably warm bed of his very own near the fireplace. And away from Little Red Bear’s snoring on the other side of the cabin. Cinnamon Charlie had found a home. Even if it meant learning how to read the “Squirrelly World” newspaper each morning.
So, then there were four bears.
The four bears lived in an area of the Ozarks Mountain Country largely unchanged by time or the outside world where they all walked along upright on two legs, and where animals and humans conversed freely with each other and interacted as equals, living side by side as neighbors and friends as it had always been and as Mother Nature had originally intended before things got complicated.
Little Red Bear wore clothes, most frequently a pair of worn, faded and loose-fitting blue denim overalls, accompanied by a wide-brimmed straw hat and a washed-out red bandana tied loosely around his neck or dangling from a rear pocket, its location more often than not determined by the season and temperature of the day.
Together, the four bears and their friends, animal and human alike, are the main characters in “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” tales — positive and inspirational fiction stories told in an easygoing, old-fashioned manner with a bit of down-home Southern flair, which we simply call a Country Comfortable writing style. Themes of Kindness, Positivity, Helping Others, Spirituality, Conservation, and Mother Nature are interwoven throughout, spiced with a little country humor.
The multi-generational short stories are family-friendly, instructive for young middle-grade readers, and perfectly suited for reading to little ones on your lap by the fireside, while also being both humorous and enjoyable entertainment for adult readers on their own. The stories are intended to be Entertaining, Informative, and Educational.
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“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” — about an uncommonly special bear and his friends. And where no story ever begins with — “Once Upon a Time . . . .”
Thanks as always for visiting and spending part of your day with us! We hope you will join us for Little Red Bear’s stories because everyone needs to step off the front porch for an entertaining and rewarding adventure now and then.
Just please remember to scrape the mud off your boots when you get back. We still get a few letters now and then about muddy floors. — Jim (and Red!)
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