Tri-County Storekeepers Line Up to Back Little Red Bear Adventure Stories!

When not standing in the ‘Strange and Silly Fiction Aisle’ at Barnes & Noble waiting for people to ask for our autographs, Little Red Bear and I are hard at work reenacting and writing about Red’s adventures.

The second collection of Little Red Bear stories well underway now will be somewhat different in approach than the first collection, which consisted of six short stories, each more of a novelette in length, truth be told. The second collection book will be noticeably longer with two additional full-length stories, along with much shorter stories which we have not agreed on a name for yet — Mini Stories or Interludes — positioned in between the longer length features.

What with the format changes, longer overall book length, and increased number of stories, it has become quite the project and undertaking. Add to that several new story characters coming from all over the U.S. and overseas, and it is readily apparent why we are running substantially over the production budget.  More characters to house and feed, additional writing sets to be constructed, landowner permits obtained for writing access, new character travel expenses, etc. Not to mention insurance, medical, and paramedic service costs while working with wildlife, some rather ill-disposed.

As luck would have it, the majority of our story characters are domestic animals and wildlife, so wardrobe costs are kept to a ‘bare’ minimum, so to speak. And while it is true that some of the characters quite literally do work for peanuts, it still does all add up in a hurry.

Scanty wardrobe and peanuts notwithstanding, the long and the little of it is that we found ourselves already way over the anticipated production budget for this story collection by the midway point, with critters eating us out of house and home.  And did I mention about the peanuts?

To their credit, a good number of businesses in the surrounding region of Little Red Bear Land in the Ozarks Mountain Country, which we refer to as the “Tri-County Area” in the stories, have stepped forward to sponsor our writing and story work. In exchange for an occasional mention of their enterprises in the stories, of course. Perhaps you may already be familiar with one — ‘McNickles Famous Pickles & Pork Rinds’ on the outskirts of Round Corners, where Little Red Bear has done book signings on occasion.

So, rest comfortably assured that writing and production work on the next collection of Little Red Bear stories is continuing unabated thanks to local shopkeepers and community support. Just letting you know so that you are aware what is going on when an occasional message from one of our sponsors appears here on the writing blog and elsewhere as we go forward.  It goes without saying that this still is and will remain a non-monetized blog in the traditional advertising sense, of course.

We will be updating story progress from time to time as we go along and get closer to the publication date, scheduled for early next year, barring unforeseen production delays.

If you are not already following my Facebook Writer Page, now would be a good time and I encourage you to do so.  As in the weekly recipes Little Red Bear shares here on the writing blog every Sunday morning, we find a number of wonderful, inspiring, entertaining, and educational videos and other items each week doing writing research. We are going to begin sharing the best ones on my Writer Page as we come across them. Most are short, focusing on our major themes here of Children, Family, Kindness, Positivity, Mother Nature, and Pets.  Pets and animals always make for a smile to brighten a gloomy day.

Thank you always for spending part of your day with us. We would be honored if you recommended our site and pages to friends and family.  Little Red Bear and I look forward to your visits here, and hope that in our own way we help to make your day special, too!  — Jim (and Red!)


“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” Stories —  Sponsored in Part by —
Bad Bob’s Bandit Bandanas — Furnishing the Finest In Must-have Accessory Items for Successful Highwaymen and Holder-uppers Since 1836. Conveniently Located next to the citizen’s bank of blusterville.

(Read about Bad Bob’s Bandit Bandanas in the coming Little Red Bear Stories!)


This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today. Patrons help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as an ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes. 


“Give light and people will find the way.” – Ella Baker

“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” – Peggy O’ Mara


Old-fashioned, Multi-Generational, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

       “It’s not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is — what are we busy about?”     – Henry David Thoreau


What is Patreon, Why I Joined and What It Means For The Future

If you are like me, you may never have heard of Patreon before. I hadn’t until it was suggested to me and I started investigating.

Growing and increasingly popular among artists, writers, videographers, musicians, and other creators, Patreon is a new, web-based membership platform providing a means for creators to build a subscriber base and receive funding directly from their fans and followers who are seeking a way to reward and provide tangible encouragement, help and support for their creative work, thereby enabling creators to focus on their work and do more.

Historically, “patrons” have directly endorsed and supported creative artists’ work over the centuries.  Patreon is a platform for that to happen once again, by providing fans and followers of creators the opportunity to subscribe as a patron of their work at whichever amount they may choose.

Some patrons may contribute each time a creative work is produced, while other patrons may pledge a small monthly amount to assist the creator on an on-going basis. In many instances, as little as a dollar a month.  Membership participation varies, individual to each creator.

So, if you see a new Patreon button or logo on someone’s page that you follow, or are provided an email link in correspondence, that is what it is all about. A way to reward, encourage, and support the creative work of those you follow and enjoy.

Contrary to advice received over the years, I have steadfastly refused to monetize my writing and creativity blog by incorporating advertisers, and will continue to do so, to never distract from positive messages and enjoyment of visitors, so receive no revenues from this site.

Retired on disability and living on a fixed income which diminishes each year with rising housing costs, medical expenses and inflation, I have become increasingly reliant on revenues from the sale of my teddy bear and other creations in my online stores to offset the costs of the blog and writing, and to make ends meet. At the same time those revenues have been decreasing from more difficult days when hand work becomes more challenging, coupled with more time spent on the blog and writing.

After a great deal of thought I came to the decision to join Patreon to help keep it all going, and as a better alternative to intrusive, annoying and questionably tasteless or shady advertisements running on my blog pages, which I would ultimately have little or no control over.

Patreon provides a reliable means for followers who would like to participate in the process, to help keep both the site and my writing work not only going, but also growing to reach a wider audience with our themes of Children, Family, Kindness, Positivity, Mother Nature and Conservation. That is what it is all about here.

What joining Patreon means, is that thru small monthly pledges and encouragement, Patrons allow me to –

  • Devote a greater amount of time to writing both with Little Red Bear and on exciting new projects in the works,
  • Provide a higher quality experience and educational information for visitors to this site,
  • Reach new readers thru my writing blog, Little Red Bear stories, and other new ways,
  • Continue spreading our positive messages to new audiences,
  • Maintain this site free of advertising and easy loading for reader enjoyment,
  • Be able to continue providing free original reading material, poetry, and wholesome entertainment for all ages.

If you are interested in becoming a Patron and would like to learn more about what it involves, simply Visit my Patreon Page and discover the exclusive rewards in store for Patrons as my Thank You – including writing updates, sneak peaks of upcoming releases, extra materials not able to be included in stories and books, the ability to participate in my Patron community, and much more.

Sharing kindness, positivity, and care for Mother Nature, together we can reunite and unify the pieces to help bring about a better future for our children and grandchildren.

Thanks as always for visiting with us. If not able to become a Patron at this time, please be assured that my writing blog will always remain free and accessible for all, and thank you always for your encouragement by following along.  – Jim (and Red!)


If you enjoy your visits here, Become a Patron of this site and my writing work, helping to grow and expand our outreach to others. Find out more and discover Patron benefits today!


“Someone’s sitting in shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” – Warren Buffet

                                              

“I’ll lift you, and you lift me, and we’ll ascend together.” – John Greenleaf Whittier


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” ― Mahatma Gandhi


                                       Enjoy Your Visit?  One-time Tips  Are Appreciated.                               Help Keep It Going For Others!


 

Ready, Set, Jump Into Summer! — The 2017 CURRENTLY Summer Blog Hop

Sun screen. Observing shore birds. Relaxing to the rhythm of the waves. Splashing in the surf. Kids playing “Marco Polo” in the pool. Family road trips. Picnics in the park. Watching spring’s wildlife babies taking first flight and learning from their parents.

Buzzing bees.  Kites in the breeze.  Birds singing in the trees.  —  Summer is in the air!

My blogger friends and I are sharing summer reflections and what we are up to at the moment.  Our thoughts, special memories, inspirations and what we are loving, listening to, anticipating, working on, writing, inspirations, and more in our “C*U*R*R*E*N*T*L*Y Summer Blog Hop.”

Please have a read and enjoy. Then visit the other #Gr8Blogs listed at the end of this post for more summer insights and  inspirations.


Currently Loving . . . .

I am currently loving the change of seasons, now from spring moving into summer. Watching the bright freshness of spring’s newly-budded leaves transitioning into  the mature forest greens of summer. The hummingbirds have arrived and are visible darting, bobbing and weaving thru the air. Fireflies in the evening should be making an appearance soon. Parent birds busy all day gathering food for newly fledged young. The garden beginning to take form. Being a native of the Midwest and then having lived in Florida for several years and now having more recently returned to my home state of Missouri, as much as I loved the beauty and beaches of Florida I always missed the traditional flow of seasons here, one into another followed by another.

Loving . . . . Spring into Summer!

Currently Listening To . . . .

Taking a step back to Florida, it was during my year’s in the Sunshine State that I discovered the Smooth Jazz genre of music, listening to a smooth jazz station in Orlando.  So, while loving the change of seasons in my Midwest home, I miss family still living in Florida and times spent together with them there. Listening to smooth jazz music, especially that of Paul Hardcastle, Jazzmasters, Peter White and the like, reminds me of Florida’s bright sunny days and trips to the beach.

And, almost without saying, Jimmy Buffett passing the time in Margaritaville, of course.  I am a Parrot Head Pirate Over Forty, and it is always Five O’ Clock Somewhere listening to Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band with a steel drum serenade. Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes — works fine here, too.

Listening to . . . . the music of summer!

Currently Making Me Happy . . . .

It seems as though it has taken forever, but finally getting settled back into a creative routine following three moves in three years, and having my workroom set up again where I create the teddy bears, old-fashioned raggedy dolls, jewelry pendants and other items for my online eBay Store and Etsy Shoppe. Unpacking boxes and rediscovering materials and supplies not seen in a few years is exciting, and has gotten the old creative juices flowing again.

Happy . . . . to be creating again!

Currently Anticipating . . . .

My online stores have been sadly neglected the past couple years with many things in limbo and in storage sheds, and together with getting the workroom going and working hard now to restock, I am eagerly anticipating the official ‘relaunch’ of my stores in mid-September in time for the holiday season, together with having some of my work and books displayed and available for the first time in local shops and boutiques on Main Street in Old Towne St. Charles, a local historic district. Old-fashioned teddy bears and raggedy dolls should feel right at home there.

Anticipating . . . . new opportunities!

Currently Working On . . . .

Summer is one of Santa and the elves’ busiest times preparing for the fall holiday season, and as one of Mr. C’s suppliers for many years, my summers are no exception. It’s busy times here!

On my worktable right now are an assortment of various sized mohair teddy bears and pandas for adult collectors, together with a growing small army of little, multi-colored mini bears which I refer to as ‘Fuzzie Cubbies’, made from vintage, 1950s plush upholstery fabric in a wide range of colors.

I am also staining fabrics, preparing to restart a line of small, old-fashioned raggedy dolls suitable for children, which I refer to as ‘Little Sidekicks’.   And making hats. And Steampunk attire.  And new wooden Adirondack Chairs and Rockers that I have designed and building. And decorative bonnets for dolls.  And more adult pendants. And, and . . . . .

Working on . . . . keeping busy!

Currently Writing . . . .

When not in the workroom, I am busy with Little Red Bear and his friends writing the second collection of short stories — ‘The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The Second Holler Over!’, for a fall release.  Following the warm reception of the standalone story for Little Red Bear, ‘Pine Holler Christmas: A Little Red Bear Story’, we are also hard at work on another standalone story — ‘Walking With Trees’ — focusing on the health benefits and well-being of spending time in nature, and the reasons why preserving the natural world is so important.  We are targeting a late summer release for this story, but as you can see, we’re pretty busy with a lot of things at the moment, but keeping good thoughts.

A lot of reading, study and research involved in my writing, of course, keeping Red and I even busier, as all of the Little Red Bear stories are meant to not only be Entertaining, but also Informative and Educational, as well. Red is very good with research. He has a special quiet place he retreats to for study, but will not share with me where it is.

Writing . . . . Little Red Bear Adventures!

Currently Grateful For . . . .

I am Currently and Always grateful for YOU!  Thank You to everyone who visits and follows my work here and on other social media sites.  Thank You for your kind comments, thoughts and encouragement.  Without YOU, I would merely being having conversations with a bear residing in my head.

It is followers, like YOU, who bring it all to life, hopefully for the benefit of many, making this blog, my writing, and works devoted to Children, Family, Positivity, Kindness, and Mother Nature possible.

Little Red Bear and I are grateful for . . . .  YOU!


Thanks as always for your time visiting with us.  That is what we (Little Red Bear and I) are currently up to, and as you can see, it is shaping up to be a very busy summer here!

I encourage you to please visit and follow my awesome and talented blogger friends below to see what they are CURRENTLY up to this summer, also.

And — be the reason someone smiles today!   — Jim (and Red!)


C*U*R*R*E*N*T*L*Y Summer Blog Hop Pages To Visit!

Julie Gorges — “Baby Boomer Bliss”
Tracy Bryan — “Children’s Author”
Auden Johnson — “Dark Treasury”
Sandra Bennett — “author”
Carmela Dutra — “carmela Dutra blog”
Cat Michaels — “Cat’s Corner”

And hey y’all, if you’re pumped about writing your own “C*U*R*R*E*N*T*L*Y” post now, simply add your family-friendly Currently blog link to your blog post in the comment section. We’ll visit and give you some blog love too!


“A Kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.” – Steve Maraboli

 

Love Is A Four Letter Word That Children Spell — “T-I-M-E”


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” — Charles Schulz


 

Finding Beauty and Joy in the Simple Things

One of my Mother’s favorite old sayings was — “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Children, so freshly arrived in the world, seem to infallibly retain and demonstrate that ancient wisdom and knowledge for us over and over, as they rejoice and find merriment in the very simplest of things.  Those things which we so often overlook as we grow older.

What parent hasn’t had the experience of giving something we thought wonderfully awesome and shiny in our eyes, only to have our child toss it aside and be deliriously happy playing with the box for hours upon hours instead? That is a strong message if we think about it.

One of my favorite country artists, John Sloane, has captured this adage of “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” perfectly and in a fun way, in his painting “To Each Her Own.” The Mother, having stepped unaware over bothersome ‘weeds’, is picking beautiful, delicate and exquisite lilac flowers; while her daughter is delightfully filling her basket with the ignored, bright and cheerful little dandelion treasures in bloom behind her.

“Someone who finds joy in a simple pebble will be surrounded by beauty wherever they go.” — Little Red Bear

The world is filled with beauty and wonder all around us, if we aware to its presence. But when we become so focused with tunnel-like vision on our goals and that which we are so stridently seeking in life, we miss out on all the simply beautiful joys and moments as we rush past. Many of which may never come again. Especially with those box-playing children. The most simple things most often bring the most happiness.

Joining with the little girl in John Sloane’s painting, I am a big fan of the commonly simple dandelion. If you would like to learn more about dandelions and the important role they play in nature for the survival of bees and other pollinators, please check out —  “Please Don’t Pull The Dandelions — They’re Nature’s Gift!”

Thanks as always for your time and visiting.  A kind gesture can reach a wound we cannot see — so be kind — and the reason someone smiles today!  — Jim  (and Red!)


Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” — Vincent van Gogh


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

“Peace begins with a smile.” – Mother Teresa


 

 

Chapter Six of The Ozarks Ostrich Crisis: “To Market, To Market”

Note to Readers– This is Chapter Six of a continuing Weekly Serial Story freely shared only here for followers of my Writing Blog.  If you missed the beginning, you can catch up HERE for the beginning and previous chapters. Follow the Blog now to be informed of every new post and update.


Pieces of glass flew everywhere as the window at first shattered and then seemed to explode from the force of a heavy, grey granite rock hurled from outside, startling everyone and causing all the bunnies to scurry in fright beneath the table to shelter from flying bits of glass.

Thump-a! . . . Bump-a! . . . Thump-a! . . . .

The rock hurtled, careened and bounced across the cabin’s wooden floor, finally coming to rest against the far wall.

Wearing boots and not wanting any of the others’ bare feet to be cut on broken shards of glass, I motioned Little Red Bear and everyone away. Carefully stepping around the larger glass splinters, smaller pieces crunched and crackled beneath my feet as I made my way across the room.

Reaching the rock, I carefully picked it up to find a message, painted in bold red letters on the flat bottom.

I held it up for Little Red Bear to see.

“LOOK OUTSIDE”

Little Red Bear quickly tossed me a broom from the corner.  I hurried to sweep up the shattered window glass pieces from seemingly everywhere, anxious to see who or what was to be found outside.

Had the weasels ganged up and overwhelmed Albuquerque while guarding the rabbits? Holding him hostage?  Worse?  Had the coyotes run wild and taken potential story characters? What had been done that they wanted us to see?  Thoughts raced thru my mind while hurriedly sweeping glass.

Before I could finish, another rock came sailing in thru the now open window space, striking the far wall and falling down in a loud “CLUMP” on the floor.  I walked over to find another message awaiting . . .

“WHAT’S TAKING SO LONG?”

I worked even faster to clear the remaining few pieces of glass from the floor and tops of tables.  

Emptying the last dust pan filled with broken glass into the trash can, I joined Little Red Bear, already slumped and frowning, at the broken window.

A short distance from the cabin, the smallest ostrich, the one whose protest sign Little Red Bear had ripped apart earlier in the day, stood with his tongue sticking out atop an upturned wooden rain barrel, forcefully waving a freshly painted new sign while wagging his head in an unhinged, wibbly-wobbly, deranged back and forth manner, taunting Little Red Bear.

RED BEAR IS SO UGLY HIS MOTHER

HAD TO BORROW A BABY

TO TAKE TO CHURCH ON SUNDAYS!

Then, aware that we had each seen the new sign, the ostrich flipped around, shaking his backside and tail feathers at us while displaying the reverse side of the sign.

AND HE SMELLS BAD!

“Sticks and stones, Red,” I reminded, trying to comfort and gently moving him back away from the window and sign message. “Sticks and stones.”

“My Mother never borrowed nobody’s baby — or cub — to take to church,” Little Red Bear grumbled in protest. “That little ostrich is just makin’ up stuff. To be hurtful. That’s not nice.”

“No, it’s not nice, Red. Don’t let it get to you. Just remember – ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.”

“I suppose,” Little Red Bear replied, rather dejectedly, “but right now I’d like to take a few sticks and stones to that guy’s bones.”

“You know that wouldn’t solve anything and just serve to make matters worse. Just let it go and be the bigger man.  Err, bear. Be the bigger bear. You know what I mean.”

“Yeah, yeah. Maybe the next sign will be about you, and then you can be the bigger man.”

“Well, Red,” I replied, patting and ruffling the hair on his shoulder. “There’s always tomorrow. Hold on to that thought if it cheers you up. We never know what the morning will bring around here right now, so we’ll see. Maybe they’ll do that for you.”

We both laughed.

“But in the meantime,” I continued, “we have a window to patch and guests to make comfortable for the night. It’s time to get bunnies in blankets.”

“Bunnies in Blankets! Oh, that sounds good.  Let me get this here window covered and I’ll get some started and made up real quick for us!”

“No, no, Red.  Not those Bunnies in Blankets.  Henrietta’s baby bunnies — I need to round up some comforters and blankets for them to go to bed and keep them warm tonight. It’s getting late. Do you always think about food?”

“Well, not always.”

“But maybe?”

“Well — maybe.”

We both laughed again.  Little Red Bear patched the broken window with some large sections of cardboard for the night, while I prepared bedding areas for Henrietta and her family of bunnies.

“Why did they have to bring my Mother into it?” Little Red Bear called over from the window. “She’d come straighten ‘em all out in a hurry if she knew about what they’d said.”

I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Yeah,” I agreed, still laughing. “She would reset their clocks all right.  There would be nothing left but a pile of feathers by the time your mother finished with them all if she knew what they’d been saying about her cute little baby bear.”

“Watch the ‘baby’ stuff,” Little Red Bear corrected, laughing himself at the thought of his mother dealing with the ostriches. “There would be feathers flying for sure! Don’t those ostriches know not to ever anger a mother bear?”

“Good thing for them she’s not around then,” I added while spreading the blankets and comforters on the floor for the bunnies.  Henrietta gently tucked each one in with a bunny kiss on the forehead.

“Maybe,” Little Red Bear answered. One could tell that he was still entertaining thoughts of flying ostrich feathers in his mind though, by the half grin on his face.  Then he unexpectedly burst into a fit of hearty and loud laughter.

“Wouldn’t those ostriches be sad to find out that after all of their efforts to make us mad and hurt our feelings, we were still inside here laughing and not crying into our pillows?” Little Red Bear managed to get out, between laughs.

Henrietta’s baby bunnies, snuggled in their blankets, were all giggling too, because laughter is contagious, after all. Henrietta shushed them, of course, while chuckling to herself.

“Yeah well, that’s what it’s all about, right?” I responded. “Not letting them get to us or ruin our day? It’s up to each of us whether we choose to be happy or give over control of our thoughts and happiness to others.  And with you laughing so loud right there beside the broken window, I’m guessing the ostriches might know.”

The prospect of the ostriches being aware that they had not affected him seemed to delight Little Red Bear still more, and he laughed even louder.

In a little while, with the window patched and bunnies nuzzled and settled in, Little Red Bear and I headed upstairs, deciding to call it a night after what had been another long and trying day.

We all awoke the next morning to find the sun peeking up over the treetops. Soon it was shining brightly, warming us on Honey Hill and burning off the night’s fog in Hoppers Holler below; with clear, cheerful blue skies overhead.  A beautiful Sunday morning.

Heralding spring, dandelions were popping up thru what open ground was left unoccupied by the encampment surrounding the cabin. Pink and white dogwood trees were in bloom, scattered thru the woods over the hillsides. The delightful sounds of birds singing, chirping, whistling and warbling filled the air.

There were many birds singing, in fact. The trees were chock full of them, all having come to see for themselves what all the uproar was about in the neighborhood. The encampment of wildlife had grown larger and even more spread out over the hillside as late-comers had continued to arrive all thru the night. Apparently, word of the ostrich protest and goings-on was still spreading over the mountains and thru the hollers.

This morning’s light revealed the construction of a rather large treehouse in the grove of trees on the hill slope out back. Raccoons can be just as busy as beavers when they set their minds to a task. Uncomfortable in their hastily constructed lean-to shelters with so many of Farmer Turner’s contentious hounds encamped nearby, Cooter’s raccoon platoon had constructed an imposing treehouse structure overnight, complete with a swing for the young-uns.

Speaking of the beavers, they completed and already rented out their second and third lodges, with new work begun on a fourth and fifth, with “For Rent” signs of course. Construction is booming it appears.

After spotting what the raccoons had accomplished overnight with their magnificent treehouse, the beavers, considering themselves to be highly skilled carpenters and builders not to be outdone, decided to try their paws at treehouse construction, as well.

Of course, the beavers needed to also construct a nice ladder in order to reach it, not having the natural ability to climb trees as do the raccoons.  A good number of trees would remain upright in the woods if beavers could climb, and not have to chew and fell trees in order to secure out-of-reach twigs and branches for food.  But they don’t, so they do, so to speak.

Little Red Bear and I both agreed the beavers’ treehouse resembled more of a traditional beaver lodge with a second story added than a true treehouse, but if you have a winning design why change it, I suppose.  And we certainly cannot argue with their success, having already rented the new unit out before work was even completed.

Securing the ostrich’s permission to cross the picket line, a family of enterprising chipmunks set up a Farmer’s Market on our front porch and yard. With the help of some beaver carpenters they had quickly assembled stands displaying and selling a large selection of various acorns, nuts, seeds, grains, berries, fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, earthworms, bugs, corn, juice, milk and eggs. A veritable little “Nature’s Wildlife Grocery Store” for the campers.

Critters have been filing in steadily to replenish supplies and to do their grocery shopping. Chipmunks are renowned for their food-storing habits and to their credit recognized a ready market for their warehouse of stores and supplies, but I didn’t ask them where they obtained the fresh produce, milk and eggs. Sometimes it is just better not to know. But with all of Farmer Turner’s hounds camping out back, I have a sneaking suspicion where at least some items may have come from.

Dealing with enough issues right now though as it is, and we were running out of food to distribute to everyone anyway. The chipmunks and their market were a welcome sight, to be honest. I will cover whatever is missing from the neighboring farmers after all this blows over. Though, it may get costly if this Ostrich Crisis goes on much longer.

I suppose the ostriches realized too, that it was best for all of us if the assembled friendly and so far, merely curious crowd of onlookers remained that way, and did not turn into an out-of-control hungry mob, so allowed the chipmunks to cross the picket line and set up shop.

Newspaper circulations and revenues are up substantially for both the owls and squirrels. And word has come to me that the weasels are still managing to clip unsuspecting visitors now and then for “camping fees” on the outskirts of the area.

It seems everyone is making money off the ongoing Ozarks Ostrich Crisis except those truly involved in the affair – Little Red Bear and the ostriches. And me – the meat in the sandwich caught in the middle as work has come to a screeching halt on new stories. Isn’t that always the way, though?

But thinking about it, somewhere in there may lie the grounds and basis for a future settlement to resolve all of this, perhaps. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem the ostriches have cared much about anything other than disruption of our writing work so far.

It is amazing how far down the wrong bumpy road one poorly chosen little word or comment can send us sometimes. Case in point – Little Red Bear’s ‘flightless’ comments to the ostriches.

Have said it before and will undoubtedly say it again – words are like toothpaste. Once squeezed out, toothpaste is all but impossible to get back inside the tube again. And thoughts and words are the same way – good or bad – and seem to take on a life of their own once let out.

Having been spoken and let loose, words are out running around on their own for all to hear, and then we must deal with the consequences because they cannot be unsaid. There are no ‘Cancel, Clear, Delete’ options on speech. We can be sorry and apologize for the poorly chosen ones right off, but the words are still out there floating around in the air, and hiding in folks’ memories looking to cause trouble at a later time.

Think twice, speak once. Or better yet sometimes, not at all.  My advice everlasting.

And in Little Red Bear’s case, the consequences of an off-hand comment came immediately in the form of picketing ostriches and an abrupt stoppage of work on his stories. Of course, how could any of us have predicted the ostriches’ reaction to being questioned about their useless wings? Ostriches are indeed “flightless”, after all. No secrets there. Little Red Bear was merely seeking information, even if not in the most delicate way, perhaps. Maybe the world is simply getting a little too sensitive, seeming to almost seek out things to be offended by at times.

Regardless, due to poorly-chosen words or over-sensitivity, the ostrich crisis lives on. New onlookers and campers are still arriving every hour, a steady stream of woodland shoppers keeps the chipmunks’ new market hopping, and the picket lines encircle and wind around the cabin.

Getting back to the ostriches, having observed that the encampment of observers had encircled my home, the ostriches decided that their picket line should also. Just so no one missed out on seeing their protests, I suppose. Instead of merely parading with their picket signs back and forth across the front as they had been the first days, they had by Saturday worn a path around the whole cabin, having taken advantage of the packs of coyotes and weasels to lengthen the picket line.

Today’s new development was discovering that a second circle of picketing ostriches, coyotes, and weasels had been added to the non-stop picketing parade around the cabin, marching in counter-clockwise fashion to the clockwise direction of the first, a circle within a circle rotating in opposite directions. Dizzying to watch.

With so many signs marching in different directions, it seemed that no matter where Little Red Bear went inside the cabin, he inevitably found himself at a window when a “LITTLE RED BEAR IS FAT, UGLY, AND SMELLS BAD!” sign paraded past.

Little Red Bear’s restraint to this point, although measured at times, has been admirable. I wonder myself, for the ostriches’ sake – how far do they really want to torment and agitate – a “bear”?

Thinking it might be time to draw the window shades and blinds before things get more out of control. As gentle and good as he is, even Little Red Bear’s tolerance level has limits, as do we all.

With tomorrow being Monday and the start of a new work week, if all goes well a sizable number of the spectators may be packing up and leaving to return to various woodland duties and jobs for the week, perhaps easing the uproar and potentially enabling some meaningful dialogue on the issues with the ostriches tomorrow.

The beaver lodges and the raccoon’s treehouse present an interesting legal quandary. They each constructed them using their own materials, but they are on our property without our permission.  I wonder if the beavers and raccoons would allow me to sub-let the new properties when this is all over? Getting ahead of myself there, probably. This all needs to be resolved first. Peacefully if possible, but with coyotes and weasels involved that’s never a sure thing.

At least, thru the efforts of the enterprising chipmunks and wildlife grocery though, everyone is getting fed now. And that’s always a good thing.

Except, the coyotes and weasels, who have displayed no interest whatsoever in the chipmunk’s market.

That is a worry. Weasels and coyotes are always a worry.  Hungry – doubly so.

But right now, I have to deal with a little piggy who appears as though he’s made one too many trips to the market.  I thought the chipmunks had only set up produce and dairy departments. Apparently there is a section in the back I may have overlooked.

Some critters seem to be enjoying the ostrich protest and events a tad more than others, it would appear. This fellow looks drunk as a skunk.  I had better go outside and get hold of this party animal before Albuquerque the Sheriff pulls him over under suspicion of SWINE – Shopping While Intoxicated Nearly Embalmed.

Gotta go.

To be continued . . . .


Thanks as always for following along and visiting with us! If not doing so already, Follow the Blog now to be informed of every new post and update.

As a special ‘thank you’ for everyone, Little Red Bear has included the Pinterest Recipe for Bunnies in Blankets that he mentioned earlier in the story, a nifty little appetizer featuring Caramelized Baby Carrots in Crescent Roll Wraps, just for fun.  You didn’t really think that we would be harming baby bunnies, did you? Find this recipe and much more on my Pinterest Boards.

Be sure to check in next week as events continue to unfold in the “Ozarks Ostrich Crisis”, a continuing weekly serialized free story available only here on the Writing Blog.  See ya then!

Kindness costs nothing.  Be kind whenever possible, while keeping in mind that it is always possible.   Be the reason someone smiles today!   — Jim  (and Red!)


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Chapter Four of The Ozarks Ostrich Crisis: “DAY 3 — Picketing Ostriches In The News!”

Note to Readers– This is Chapter Four of a continuing Weekly Serial Story freely shared only here for followers of my Writing Blog.  If you missed the beginning, you can catch up HERE for the first three chapters.


Still shaken by my Ghostly Cloud dream the night before and feeling as though I had gone ten rounds in the ring with a boxing kangaroo, I tried to put the picketing ostriches out of my mind and headed back inside the cabin, where Little Red Bear was already busily preparing breakfast.

“I will take care of breakfast this morning, Jim,” he called over from the kitchen. “You just set yourself down there at the table and rest your bones.  I don’t know what in the world you did last night but you sure look the worse for wear.”

He kindly brought a cup of breakfast tea over and placed a stack of morning newspapers in front of me.

“Some things in “Squirrelly World” you might find interesting this morning. They even came out with a special edition. And I’m going to close the window for a spell, if you don’t mind. Don’t want to listen to all that goofy ostrich chanting during breakfast. Bad for digestion. I’ll get to it as soon as I finish cooking over here.”

Boycott Bear Stories!

No Ostriches, No Stories!

What do we want? Ostriches!

When do we want them? Now!

“Yeah, Red. Shut ‘em down. I don’t want to listen to all that racket right now, either.”

Little Red Bear is fat, stupid and rude.

And we don’t like his attitude!

What’d you say? They didn’t hear.

Shout it LOUDER, there’s nothing to fear!

Little Red Bear is fat, stupid and rude.

And we don’t like his attitude!

“Sounds like they’re sticking with the classics this morning, Red. Hope whoever came up with these chants for the ostriches gets royalties every time they shout them out.”

“You don’t get royalties on your writing stuff, do you Jim?”’

“Nah. Never enough to buy a sandwich with.”

Hey, hey, ho!  That smelly bear has got to go!

Hey, hey, ho!  That flightless comment was really low!

Hey, hey, ho!  Come join us picketing to and fro!

Hey, hey, ho!  That writer guy shouldn’t write no mo’!

Not waiting for Little Red Bear to get to it, I closed the window myself. Looking out over the front yard area and hillside, it seemed birds and animals were arriving from every direction.

“I got the window, Red.”

Limping back to the table, I reached for the morning’s copy of “Squirrelly World.”  Little Red Bear’s ominous tone a few moments before had gotten my attention and made me curious. Picking up the newspaper the bold headline on the front page immediately captured my attention – “Lynch Mobs Gathering!”

It appears that the question of why the crowds outside the cabin continue to grow larger and larger had been answered – the squirrels and “Squirrelly World” had been busy chatting it up and spreading news about the ostriches and their irrational protest everywhere.

“I’m sure it’s just “Squirrelly World” bluster and nonsense, Red,” I called over to Little Red Bear, who was busy stirring another batch of waffle batter in the kitchen while the first batch warmed in the oven. “But just in case, do you know where all of our ropes are?”

“Yep. Already gathered them all in from the shed and locked ‘em up inside the cabin before you came down this morning,” Little Red Bear replied while still stirring, surprisingly calm given the headline.  “Just in case.”

Of course, I suppose it is probably pretty hard to get too upset over anything with the scent of Blueberry Oatmeal Waffles in your nose.

“Sounds like you have it all under control then, Red.”

“You betcha.”

“I’m sure there’s nothing to it. Just “Squirrelly World” doing what they do again.”

“I agree. But like I always say – ‘Why take a chance?’ There’s just some things you don’t want to be wrong about in life, Jim. And getting lynched is one of ’em.  Ropes – locked up.”

Following along with the events and so you understand why neither Little Red Bear nor I are too overly concerned about the lynching headline, it would be best for you to know that there are two primary news outlets here in Little Red Bear’s backwoods neighborhood.

The first, respected as being mostly factual and unbiased, is the “Owl Hoots & Toots”, a newspaper put out by a pair of owl brothers, great grey owls who also double as private investigators, private “owl’s” eyes, Artemis and Atticus.

It is without question the most reliable source of overnight news and developments, providing factual information of newsworthy events and happenings in an unbiased manner. And the most accurate fishing reports and prospects on local streams and lakes, normally the section Little Red Bear reads first each morning.

And then there is the other publication – “Squirrelly World”.

To be brutally honest – “Squirrelly World” is a gossip rag. A scandal sheet tabloid prone to featuring scandalous and sensational news in the backwoods, full of idle gossip, rumours, innuendo and chit-chat. Who was seen wagging their tail at who, which celebrity Nuthatch was seen escorting a cute Chickadee into their nest late at night, which doe batted her long eyelashes at a strange young buck, etc.

A newspaper, to use the term loosely, given to blowing events, real or rumoured, totally out of proportion and context to boost subscribers and ad revenues. Squirrels are insatiable in their quest for deep stockpiles and can never have enough nuts, it would seem.

The only reliable and generally trusted news reporter on the staff of “Squirrelly World” is Rusty the Fairydiddle, a red squirrel with a keen nose for news. Word in the woods is that Rusty is being recruited by Artemis and Atticus to jump ship and join the “Owl Hoots & Toots”.

That would be a good career move for both Rusty and the owls, removing his stigma of working for a gossipy tabloid to serving a true news organization of reputation and merit, while at the same time providing access to a broader area of news coverage and readership for the owls thru his established squirrel channels. But, like most things, it’s merely hearsay and conjecture until it happens.

With regard to the ostrich protest, each newspaper seems to have taken a different slant with the story – the “Owl Hoots & Toots” most accurately relaying the facts in small back page articles; while the squirrels, in their customary fashion in “Squirrelly World”, have sensationalized the story each day in bold, front page banner headlines. Additionally, they have editorially expanded the ostriches’ issues to all birds, flightless or not, while also hurling (what we feel) baseless and unsubstantiated accusations and allegations in the direction of Little Red Bear.

There is a growing clamor in the woodland today as critters seem to be taking different sides on the issue. Crows are being exceptionally raucous and disorderly in the treetops. A noisy cluster of blackbirds is assembling in a group of red oak trees in the distance, with more steadily arriving, traveling in giant clouds and swarms as they do.

And it would seem there is one rather confused looking turkey buzzard pacing back and forth along the roadside, first looking up towards our cabin and then looking over to the picketing ostriches, wagging his bald red head back and forth apparently trying to make up his mind of which side to join and unsure of how to proceed, understandably unaccustomed as vultures are to being caught up and involved with issues of the living, of course.

Or, there’s a chance that he simply showed up early to be first in line after the lynching, I suppose.  Hopefully the former.

As one might expect then from the headlines and crowds, as the day progressed tensions continued to escalate in the Ozarks Ostrich Crisis.

Large and intimidating as they are, the ostriches, in addition to picketing and chanting protest slogans, are now preventing our story characters from entering scheduled writing sessions, not allowing them to cross the picket line to come to work, and calling them “flabby grabby scabbies”.

Some feelings are being hurt because of that, but more worrisome perhaps has been the reaction and involvement of the local packs of coyotes and weasels.

Little Red Bear and I were concerned that the ostriches’ initial chanting, protests and discontent might spread to marginalized fringe groups, and there seem to be none more marginalized and disparaged than weasels and coyotes here in these parts, who in the interest of full disclosure – do not occupy a high standing in Little Red Bear’s view or stories.

So, they already have an ax to grind with Red and have predictably settled on the side of the obstreperous ostriches, joining in the picketing and protesting. The coyotes are creating a maddening racket and disruption with their howling. I am wondering how long we can keep the windows closed heading into summer, and what the cost might be to air-condition the place, if even possible to reasonably do that with a log cabin?

Groups of both coyotes and weasels have been going around trying to coerce other critters to enlist support for the picketers and join their side. Fortunately, most bystanders can escape into trees and avoid the blustering bullies.

Sadly, one intrepid “Squirrelly World” reporter may not have been so fortunate, having been carried away by a coyote under the pretense of an ‘exclusive private interview’ and not having been seen since. His editor is worried about the interview story being late for tomorrow’s deadline.

Prospective story characters still applying for jobs are finding it challenging to keep their place in line as well, with angry weasels and coyotes menacingly patrolling the path. Especially the slow and smaller critters. Frankly, I’m concerned about some of the turtles and porcupines, but then again, they are turtles and porcupines with their own defenses, after all. So, it will probably be all right. Hoping.

Both curious and disturbing, one of the coyotes even made a picket sign of his own and was carrying it around, deliriously pumping it up and down in the air over his head, trooping along in line behind the ostriches back and forth.

Fashioned after one of the ostrich signs, it read — “COYOTES ARE BIRDS, TOO!”

Which goes a long way towards explaining why coyotes occupy the role they do in Little Red Bear’s adventure stories.

The largest ostrich, presumably the leader, eventually persuaded the coyote to put the sign down; the ostrich appearing somewhat embarrassed by it all himself, as he then tried to ditch the sign and conceal it out of sight by jamming it into a large honeysuckle bush off to the side.

Silliness aside, with coyotes and weasels involved now, things have more than a fair chance of taking a turn for the worse. The coyotes always seem to have a certain edginess about them. And the local weasel situation, while never on friendly terms dating back to an incident a few years ago with Little Red Bear and a friend at the Triennial Swamp Tug, has markedly deteriorated over the past year.

Weasels pretty much had their way for many years in the backwoods and had been decimating the local bunny rabbit population. So much so that Little Red Bear felt inclined to invite bunny families to nest beneath his cabin for protection a couple years ago.

That all changed when the new, self-proclaimed Backwoods Sheriff arrived a little while ago, Albuquerque Red from New Mexico.  Albuquerque is a red fox, and both curiously and as one would not expect, a loyal friend and protector of rabbits. The little fox sheriff and the weasels have been at odds ever since. It’s all explained at length in Little Red Bear’s first collection of stories, “The First Holler!” should you wish to catch up on the background and history of it all.

So, hoping things do not get dangerous or truly ugly with the added involvement of the weasels and coyotes now.

“The coyotes had a head start on ‘truly ugly’ the moment they showed up.”

“Red, that’s not nice. Remember our young readers.”

“Well, just stating a fact. They’re ugly. Truly.”

“Red . . . .”

“Kids today know what ugly is.  And if they don’t, they just have to picture a coyote in their mind. Or a weasel. Either one. But not together. That’s too much ugly even for me to imagine.”

Well, I think everyone should understand how Little Red Bear feels about coyotes and weasels now. But as I keep explaining to him, coyotes are just another of God’s creatures going about their business as Mother Nature intended. I think they are frequently quite handsome creatures, myself, simply doing what they have been sent here to do.

That being said though, it’s difficult to sway someone to appreciate a creature’s good qualities while that very same critter is busy picketing in front of their home and hurling “fat and ugly” insults at them. So, I understand Little Red Bear’s position on the matter.

I have known Little Red Bear and some of his friends for years, and have always been urging Red to allow me to help him tell the world about his adventures. But never imagined our having to deal with protesting ostriches, coyotes and weasels around our home in the process. Along with the dubious threat of being strung up and lynched, of course.

Do romance novelists have to deal with this kind of stuff? Do jilted lovers bother to picket in protest or simply hustle on along to their next fling? I write animal stories, so honestly have no idea. But there are so many romance writers out there and so few animal story writers, that it would seem to beg the question.

Regardless, time marches on. Along with the ostriches, coyotes and weasels. Maybe they will all come to their senses and tomorrow will bring peace and calm again.

Wait! – Oh! – No!

There goes a weasel chasing my receptionist trying to get into work, a four-year-old rabbit with a nest full of bunnies to feed.

“Hey, you!  Stop that!  Run, Henrietta!  I’m coming!”

Gotta go!

To be continued . . . . . . . .


Thanks as always for following along and visiting with us! As a special ‘thank you’, Little Red Bear has included the Pinterest Recipe for those Blueberry Oatmeal Waffles he was making earlier. If you are unfamiliar with Pinterest, simply tap on the image to find the recipe.

Be sure to check in next week as events continue to unfold in the “Ozarks Ostrich Crisis”, a continuing weekly serialized free story available only here on the Writing Blog.  See ya then!

And please remember — Kindness does not cost anything and can change someone’s life in a heartbeat.  Be the reason someone smiles today!   — Jim  (and Red!)


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“The Legend of the Dogwood”

A weekend, early Spring drive to attend one of my sons’ weddings in Orlando, Florida could not have been more perfectly timed.

Driving south from Missouri thru the scenic mountain country of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia, and back again, revealed beautiful dogwood trees with white and pink flower blossoms on full display in otherwise open woodlands, with the much larger and later emerging hardwoods still bare of leaves to hide them from view. Driving thru the same locations a week earlier or later, and it may well have been a different scene, missing out on the blooming display.

Walking thru the Ozarks woodlands in early springtime with a bit of chill in the air, one of my favorite sights has always been witnessing the annual blooming of the Dogwood Trees in gentle displays of pink and white, scattered over the hillsides.

Along with early arriving songbirds back from winter migrations, the dogwoods each year signal the arrival of spring, with its promise of beauty, hope, and new beginnings.



Being smaller and a spindlier understory tree, the dogwood is one of the very first trees to bloom in warming rays of the early spring sun, before other much larger oak and hardwood tree neighbors have fully leafed out and cover it over in preferred shade like an umbrella, shielding dogwoods then from the blazing sunlight and heat for the remainder of the summer season.



There is a legend told of the Dogwood Tree, perhaps one of the oldest legends of the Christian era, that in the time of Jesus of Nazareth and the crucifixion, the dogwood was the size of mighty oak trees, so strong and firm that it was chosen as the timber for Jesus’ cross.

This story is not to be found in the Bible and the author is unknown, yet generations have told and retold The Legend of the Dogwood so that it has persisted thru time.

If not factual, in the least it is interesting that the story of the dogwood has meant so much to so many through the ages, that generations of repetition have served to keep the story and legend alive to this day.



According to legend, to be used for such a purpose as the crucifixion greatly distressed the tree. Nailed upon it, in His compassion Jesus sensed the sadness, sorrow, and suffering of the tree, and in His mercy assured that it would never be used for such purpose again.

Dense and fine-grained, dogwood timber has been highly prized over the years for small projects, fashioning the wood into such purposeful items as loom shuttles, tool handles, canes, mountain dulcimers, and more. Peeling off the bark and biting the twigs, early pioneers would use dogwoods to scrub and brush their teeth. But the dogwood tree was never again to grow large enough to be used for purposes as it had been that day as a cross for crucifixion, according to the legend.

Even now as a testament to the day, the petals of the Dogwood Tree grow in the shape of a cross, with each petal bearing the reddish stains of blood and a rusty nail, with the crown of thorns in the center, following the legend.



— “The Legend of the Dogwood” —

“And Jesus said . . . . . . . . . 

“Because of your regret and pity for My suffering, never again shall the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a cross . . . .

“Henceforth it shall be slender and bent and twisted, and its blossoms shall be in the form of a cross . . . two long and two short petals . . . .

“And in the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints, brown with rust and stained with red, and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns . . . .

“. . . . and all who see it will remember.”


Springtime is always a special time here with so much to be thankful for. Winter snows, grey skies, and cold traded for warming days and sunshine.

Morning strolls and the return of beautiful songbirds to the area once again. Perky little daffodils emerging with bright bursts of yellow. And the gentle and peaceful flowering dogwoods in pinks and whites on the hillsides.

Happy Spring and thanks as always for visiting and spending part of your day with us here!

The Dogwood Tree and its blossoms are a beautiful symbol and annual reminder not only of nature’s gentle beauty, but also with the legend’s story and lessons of Mercy, Forgiveness, Compassion, Love, and Peace for us all to take to heart and share.

Will you visit with Mother Nature today?   – Jim (and Red!)


  “Sometimes Mother Nature has the answers when you do not even know the questions.”   – Keith Wynn

“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.” – Rachel Carson


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With the help of patrons, each month we are able to donate free print copies of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” to Senior Citizens,  School Libraries and Classrooms, and to those who could otherwise not obtain a copy.

Patrons also help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as a non-monetized, ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes while sharing positive messages of happiness, inspiration, and kindness with everyone. We invite you to join us in making a positive difference in the world!


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Chapter One of The Ozarks Ostrich Crisis: “Day 1 — How It All Began”

Serialized stories have been popular in literature for a long time, going all the way back to the 17th century.  American writers publishing in serial form over the years include Henry James, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Herman Melville. One of the most famous radio program serials was “Little Orphan Annie.”  So, Little Red Bear and I thought it might be fun to bring back the weekly serial story.

Welcome to the first installment of a new weekly serial story to be published only here on the writing blog every Saturday morning over the next several weeks — “The Ozarks Ostrich Crisis.”  This is a story which first appeared in daily serial form on Facebook a few years ago, which we have dusted off, updated for developments in Little Red Bear Land over the years, and are recirculating just for fun.  This serialized story was received so well that it was the actual catalyst for starting this blog in order to share more creative writing and works.

We hope you enjoy and follow along every week as the story evolves.  Sharing with friends and family is not only very much appreciated, but strongly encouraged.  It’s always simply about the fun.

So then, here we go . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Note to Readers–  In the early months of spring 2014, Little Red Bear and I had been interviewing applicants for prospective characters in Red’s upcoming first collection of short stories — “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!”, due for release in the coming months.  Interviews, meetings and writing sessions had been proceeding smoothly and on schedule without incident. 

That all changed upon the arrival of three ostriches who expressed interest in being in the stories, despite the adventures taking place in the Ozarks Mountain Country of Missouri, not on the savannas of Africa. Where the ostriches came from, why they showed up on our front porch that spring morning, how they even heard about our stories underway — nobody knows.  What ensued altered lives and the landscape of the backwoods forever.

As most folk are aware, Ostriches are not native to the Ozarks, but as Little Red Bear and I always try to  keep an open mind for new ideas and suggestions, we decided to meet with them to discuss possible story roles.  But having neither included them in any story character recruiting lists nor having done any research in advance, we were admittedly taken a bit off guard and unprepared for their arrival.  And determination.  Any ground-dwelling bird that exists on the open African plains alongside  powerful lions, hyenas and speedy cheetahs, should not be underestimated or taken for granted.  Turns out, ostriches are born into a world of conflict, do not shy away from it and may even regard it as sport.  Lessons learned.

What follows is taken from the documented, blow-by-blow diary account of the events and developments that transpired over the following days.  The story you are about to read is true, to the best of our recollection, mostly. Only some of the names have been changed to protect the innocent.   


DAY 1– “And So It Begins”

If there were any readers hoping for an Ostrich to make an appearance in the upcoming “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” stories, it’s not looking good after what transpired today.

The stories about Little Red Bear and his friends are generally based in the Ozarks Mountain Country of Missouri — mountains, farms, old mines, beautiful streams, forests, hollers, wildflower meadows, and the like. As such, the stories feature flora and fauna native to the region, as well as some interesting “imports” just for fun.  And education.

Albeit surprised by the arrival of three ostriches intent on interviewing for story character roles, Little Red Bear and I thought it might be nice to go ahead and add them into the stories even though writing work on Red’s adventures was already well underway. Obviously not native to the area but unusual and interesting birds nonetheless, we felt both children and older readers might enjoy having ostriches included in the adventures while possibly learning something new about them along the way perhaps.

And must admit, Little Red Bear and I were both rather charmed and taken in by the happy-go-lucky and out-going natures expressed in the headshot photos they submitted with their Story Character job applications.  Their motivation to appear in the stories seemed genuine, and it’s always easier and more pleasant to work with friendly folk.

To our mutual bewilderment and disappointment, it turned out ostriches may not be the easiest creatures to deal with, after all. During the interview, Little Red Bear made an off-hand (off-paw?) comment about never having seen a flightless bird before, and  innocently asked — “Why do you fellas have wings at all if you don’t know how to use them?”

Apparently, ostriches can be rather sensitive critters, at least about the non-flying thing anyway, and well — let’s just say the question was never answered directly, or at least we couldn’t hear if it was over all the loud clucking and ‘attitude’ that immediately followed.

As so often goes with misunderstandings, one thing led to another and before we knew it the ostriches threatened to walk out if Little Red Bear didn’t apologize for his thoughtless and cruel “flightless” comment.  That was our opportunity — our ‘out’ — if you will.  I can see that clearly now.

But some opportunities are very short-lived, and that one quickly slipped away when Little Red Bear replied that “Walk out” was the only thing they could do since ostriches apparently couldn’t fly, and that even tiny mosquitoes and gnats can fly, and bugs don’t seem smart at all getting trapped on flypaper all the time as they do so where does that rank ostriches on the Smarts Scale if even stupid bugs are able to fly, and he’d never known Mother Nature to be wrong about anything before so it must be something about them if they had wings and didn’t use them and what a creative waste that was, and, and  . . . . . . .

Let’s just say that Little Red Bear carried on a bit more as he and the ostriches thrust and parried insults back and forth across the table, and that about sealed it.  Whatever peace which we had enjoyed in the early morning was shot to . . . . , well — had been laid waste by noon.

Out the door and down the front porch steps the ostriches all went, one following another in line.  Walking — of course.  Rather briskly.  I could say that they “stormed” out, but that would be an exaggeration and hard to apply that term to giant, 9 feet tall birds weighing over 300 pounds, strutting out the door and down the path with white poofy tail and wingtip feathers flickering, fluttering, riffling, and whiffling in the morning’s spring breeze. Sashayed, perhaps.

One could conceivably and more correctly say their exit was closer to a sashaying out than a storming out.  There is a reason that the phrase “strutting like a peacock” is generally not a complimentary term, and in retrospect probably should have kept those thoughts to myself.

As it turned out, we learned that in addition to being hypersensitive and having excellent eyesight, ostriches also have excellent hearing, and having overheard me whisper those “sashay” and “strutting peacock” comments to Little Red Bear, it just seemed to incite them more.  Apparently, they may not be on the best of terms with peacocks either, jealous because peacocks are one of the largest flying bird species, a group that of course does not include ostriches.

I’m fairly certain the peacock comment was not received well, because that wing gesture was clearly intended to mean something other than friendly.  It was the body language of it.  I didn’t need to be able to speak ‘Ostrich’ to understand that.  Some symbols and gestures may be universal, it seems.

The picture taken following the morning’s meeting, by Rusty the Fairydiddle (the red squirrel reporter for the local “Squirrelly World” newspaper)  pretty much sums it up.

We were not seeking to include any ostriches in Little Red Bear’s stories to begin with, but nevertheless, I will try to smooth things over because we never like to see anyone go away mad, it’s just not in Red’s or my nature. And it’s pretty clear — they’re not happy.  And that there may be an understatement, unfortunately.

But, really.  What can they do that would cause any problems for Little Red Bear and I finishing his stories on time anyway?  They’re simply three strange birds in a foreign land, after all.

Three . . . . . giant . . . . . angry . . . . . very strange . . . . . birds.

To be continued . . . . . . . .


Thanks as always for visiting with us!  Be sure to check in next week as events continue to unfold in the “Ozarks Ostrich Crisis”, a continuing serialized free story available only here on the Writing Blog.  See ya then!  — Jim  (and Red!)


Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

Children + Nature + Outdoors = Happy, Healthy Balanced Kids


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

~ Think Globally — Act Locally ~


Getting to Know — Tree Swallows

Tree Swallows are among my favorite birds, always delighting in observing their aerial acrobatics in fast pursuit of insects, rapidly twisting and turning thru the air dashing here, there, and everywhere on late summer afternoons and evenings.

The Tree Swallow (tachycineta bicolor) is one of the most beautiful of the swallow family, with deep-blue, iridescent backs and clean white fronts.  With their steely, bluish-green feathers flashing in the sunlight, Tree Swallows make a most striking appearance and display as they chase thru the air in pursuit of insect food for their families.

Tree Swallows do not build open, free-form nests of dead grass, leaves, sticks and twigs like many birds, but rather only nest inside cavities, such as old woodpecker holes in trees.  With such natural places in limited supply, nesting sites like these are scarce and at a premium in the spring, on a first-come, first-served basis, with intense competition with everyone looking for a home in which to raise a family.  But fortunately, Tree Swallows also adapt readily to nesting boxes.

You can help the Tree Swallows in your neighborhood by putting out nesting boxes in your backyard.  The birds are a great addition to a backyard or field and will reward you, as many birds and bats do, by regularly patrolling and keeping insects under control and at bay all summer long.

The average adult Tree Swallow consumes 2,000 insects each day during the 45 day nesting period, while also catching approximately 6,000 insects per day to feed to their nestlings over their twenty day stay in the nestbox. Overall, this adds up to about 300,000 insects per family over the 45 day span. Since most of their hunting takes place under a height of 39 feet, that is potentially a lot of insects not pestering you in the backyard over the summer.

That is a good return on the purchase, or for a few boards and time invested in building a nest box. And then you and your family will also be able to enjoy observing these beautiful birds going about their business darting and dashing thru the air and raising their young thru the whole season.

For more information on Tree Swallows, please visit the Tree Swallow Nesting Project and Building Nesting Boxes for some easy how-to guides.

Thanks as always for visiting.  If you have stories or experience with these beautiful birds or helping them with nest boxes at your home, please feel free to share with us in the comments.  —  Jim (and Red!)

Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

Children + Nature + Outdoors = Happy, Healthy Balanced Kids


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

 

On Fly Fishing — Teach a Bear to Tie a Fly (And You Will Have Accomplished Something!)

Right off the bat, I must admit that the title may be a bit optimistic and premature, because I haven’t accomplished anything quite yet teaching Little Red Bear about tying flies and fly fishing.  But we’ll get back to that in a minute.

One of my favorite uncles, my mother’s youngest brother, was a first class fly fisherman in the day.  One of his best friends was a conservation officer with the Missouri Department of Conservation at the time, and they would spend every chance they got fly fishing the Ozarks streams. Like my mother, he had grown up in the country and was all about nature and the outdoors.  He had served in the Pacific on Iwo Jima and Okinawa among others in WWII not too many years before, and I always figured maybe the peacefulness of fly fishing is what may have so appealed to him after it all.

Uncle Paul firmly maintained that anyone could catch a fish if they hooked up a worm, used bait and fed them, but it was a true challenge and art to catch a fish on a lure that you had made yourself.  So he taught me how to make and tie my own flies and to fly fish as a boy.  He reassured me that the hungrier I got, the better I would get at making them.

I don’t know whose idea it was that I should learn how to tie flies at the age of nine, my mother’s or my uncle’s (it certainly wasn’t my father’s because he was a city kid, thru and thru), but there I was sitting at his kitchen table one Saturday morning learning all about the different kinds of flies and bugs to imitate. Shiny Mylar strips, tinsels, miniature corks, colored wires, hooks of all sizes, chenille stems, horse hairs, bits of assorted furs, spools of thread, and tools and miniature vices I had never seen before all spread out on the table before me.

And all sorts of wondrous feathers — peacock eye feathers, guinea fowl, pheasant, grouse, quail, marabou, ostrich, ducks, roosters, chickens and others.  Feathers from all over the world from birds I had only seen and read about in Encyclopedias!  All a small boy’s imagination could hope for and a whole new world suddenly opened.

As it turned out, fly fishing is the only kind of fishing I ever really enjoyed, to tell the truth.  And now steadfastly agree with my mentor.  Tossing a worm-baited hook into the water is not only lacking in challenge, but also an insult to the intelligence of the fish.  And since they spend so much time in schools, they do tend to take it rather personally.

There is just something about fly fishing.  The excitement and sudden rush of spotting a flash of silver under the water in the distance.  Working and playing out the fly line, back and forth, back and forth in a relaxing zen-like rhythm imitating soft lapping waves along the shoreline, the heavy line artfully arched over your head.  Cast out and land the lure in exactly the right spot where you just saw a riffle on the water, widening circlets across the way. Being at the water’s edge with the songbirds in the background while water ripples around you.  A turtle pops up to say ‘Good morning!’  and forest critters edge cautiously to the shoreline for a drink. Frogs croak their greetings as red-winged blackbirds cheer you on from the nearby reeds. Simply — magical. Nature speaks to you, if you listen. For myself, I just could never find that same joy in any other type of fishing.

I would spend hours on summer afternoons, just as Uncle Paul showed me, fly rod in hand in the backyard practicing to drop a fly inside a hula hoop target laid on the ground at the back of the yard. Eventually the larger hula hoop was replaced with a smaller metal bucket. I always look back on all that, together with the time my uncle spent with me infusing his love of the outdoors and respect for wildlife, as probably where my life-long love of nature and conservation got its start at an early age.  We never know at what precise moment the stars may align and how a few minutes spent with a child may influence their whole life to come.  And there’s a lesson there in itself.

We would visit my uncle’s home regularly thru the year on Saturday mornings, me in the kitchen learning to tie flies at the kitchen table with Uncle Paul, working side by side each of us with our own vise and every time a different type; while my mother visited with Aunt Laura in the living room. Wrapping and making the Wooly Bugger Worm was always my favorite.

It was Uncle Paul who gave me my first hunk of beeswax and taught me to always wax the sewing thread to keep it from tangling while tying the flies.  A trick I still use today when hand sewing teddy bears and things.

Some of the little tools, grips, vices, supplies and books used back then are still with me today.  We made frequent trips to visit the Culver Lures store on Missouri Avenue in south St. Louis at the time. A somewhat dark little store because the two smallish front windows were cluttered with merchandise, with a white wooden store front and wooden floors too, as I recall, overflowing with every fly tying and rod making item imaginable.  Stand at the counter, tell the man smoking the stubby cigar what I needed and he would go find it and ring it all up on the cash register.  Hand over the cash and away we’d go to make more lures. The store is long gone now and remodeled into a condo. A different time.

Used to have an honest-to-goodness fisherman’s straw hat with flies stuck in all over it, too. Don’t know where that might have went over the years, sadly.  I suspect my mother may have pricked her finger on a hook dusting it one too many times when I was away at college and it was shown the door.  But just a guess.  No one ever seemed to recall its whereabouts or fate later, whenever queried.

flies-3

It turns out Uncle Paul was right — there are few thrills in life to compare to catching and landing a fish on a lure that you have handmade yourself.  Marriage and the birth of children are certainly at the top, but that first fish is right up there on the list, too!

And that all brings me to Little Red Bear.  Being an avid fisherman himself with his assortment of bamboo and stick poles and always up for a challenge, Little Red Bear now wants me to teach him how to make his own lures and teach him how to fly fish.

Red has always been a “throw out the bait and wait” type, as he puts it.  Not my thing, as I said.  So I can readily see his wanting to move up the fishing ladder, so to speak.  The only problem is, with those big bear paws of his, I’m not sure that I’m up to the challenge of teaching him.  Showing him how to make biscuits is one thing, and admittedly his are better than mine now (although I still make the best cornbread). But Little Red Bear sitting and tying teeny little fishing flies?  Not so sure.

Still, I’ve yet to see Little Red Bear not accomplish something he sets his mind to, so we’ll see.  There was that time at Perch Lake when he hauled that giant, cantankerous and ill-tempered . . . . .   Well, I really should let you read and enjoy that ‘Sir Snapsalot’ story for yourself.  He even tells folk how to make their own bamboo fishing poles in that one!  Red’s famous for them in these parts.

In the meantime, I wonder what Uncle Paul would think now about the time he spent with a young nephew years ago, teaching him how to tie flies and fish, and who grew up to later write stories about conservation and an uncommonly special bear and his friends in the Ozarks Mountain Country that we visited and fished together ourselves? I like to think he might enjoy them. Time is never wasted when spending it with a child.

Thanks as always for visiting.  I will keep you posted, and we’ll see how this fly tying adventure goes with Little Red Bear, I suppose.  I can’t say ‘no’ to someone looking to learn and try something new.  Even if it seems as though it may be a mighty challenge along the way.  — Jim  (and Red!)

Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

~ Children Learn To Read on the Laps of Their Parents ~

Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

 

Back To Work With Little Red Bear — “The Second Holler Over!”

Hey, y’all.  Thought it might be time for a progress update on the next collection of Little Red Bear stories, to bring everyone up to date on what’s going on behind the scenes as we are into the new year now.  With the the holiday season concluded, we are back at work writing the next collection of Little Red Bear adventures for you — “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The Second Holler Over!”

Bobo and Lily have returned from their Christmas visit with black bear relatives in the Smoky Mountains now, and Red has rounded up Cinnamon Charlie, Albuquerque, Swinestein, “Howdy!”, Stillwater, Bayou Bill and the others back from their holiday vacation trips, as well. Indian John and Aunt Ivy have been dropping by daily, anxious to get back to work on the stories. Even Farmer Turner is here, this being his slower time of year during the winter months until spring planting season arrives.

And naturally, everyone’s favorite little red squirrel, Rusty the Fairydiddle, is back after his co-starring role in the “Pine Holler Christmas” story adventure, with Little Red Bear and Cinnamon Charlie.

Rusty the Fairydiddle, Red Squirrel Reporter on the Job!

The old prospector Packsaddle Pete is back too, with another adventure in mind. That may be a hard sell to the rest of the group since some of  us remain a little nervous hearing things at night, and still looking back over our shoulders following that “Broken Hill Mine” episode in the first story collection.  But he keeps going on about treasure maps and clues to Jesse James’ lost treasure buried around the area.  I don’t know.  We’ll have to see about that one.

Interviews for prospective new story characters are nearly concluded, with only a gopher, a skink, a second interview with a hedgehog, and a rather persnickety peacock remaining.  And, that really is meant to be ‘skink’ there, for those of you who thought that might be a typo.  We have an opening for a Five-lined Skink (also called a Blue-tailed Skink here in Missouri) in a coming story.  All of the available skunk character positions have already been filled.

Neither Little Red Bear nor I can figure out why peacocks seem so intent on being included in rollicking adventure stories set in the backwoods of the Ozarks Mountain Country.  We had peacocks lined up and applying for roles in the first collection, as well.

This new fellow has even gone so far as to declare that he could perfectly play the role of either a hummingbird or a woodpecker, but my leg only stretches so far.  Sometimes it appears peacocks are merely showing off.  See for yourself from the job application headshot photo he submitted to see what you think.  Do you really see him hovering  in place over a flower like a hummingbird, or grasping the bark while drilling a hole in the trunk of a sugarberry tree?

More suited for the red carpet in Hollywood than a backwoods action/adventure story perhaps, but we’ll interview him anyway. Maybe some other role might pop up for him. Who knows, it might turn into one of those cases where he simply plays himself.

And then we still have that troubling interview with a persistent mountain lion to deal with.  Admittedly, Red and I kept rescheduling that meeting over and over again the past few months hoping the mountain lion would cancel all together and just go away, but he seems determined to get into the stories. I suppose we are going to have to finally sit down with him to do the interview or risk incurring the wrath of the ‘Silly Story Characters Guild’.

No one is really excited about the prospect of an unpredictable mountain lion roaming around the woods. But our attorney, Bob the Badger, is already occupied trying to extend the beaver twins contracts, Flap and Slap.  The beavers are represented by a new agent, Reggie the Wood Rat, trying to make his mark and attract new clients.  And the bees are angry and buzzing about something again, so Badger Bob is busy attending to that matter for us, too. Seems like that stuff never ends sometimes.

So, we will interview the mountain lion, not to cause Bob the Badger anymore unnecessary work.  Might call Bobo to come sit in on that one with us.  Just in case.  I already asked Stillwater, but as you may remember from “The Wildwood Jamboree” story,  he doesn’t generally like to interfere or draw attention to himself so preferred to remain undetected on the sidelines.

The last interview we had been planning is with a human character who keeps calling on the phone saying he is lost and unable to find the place.  After the fifth “I’m lost” call and reschedule, Little Red Bear finally decided to go out to search for the guy himself and lead him in for the interview.  Bobo suggested we just sit and wait to follow the circling buzzards.  He can be that way sometimes.  The fellow’s name is ‘Woods’ something or other, if memory serves me correctly.  Hoping he will show up eventually.

So, except for the last few remaining interviews, all the character slots have been filled, with several new colorful story characters assembled and eager to get to work.  Some of them you may have already met.  Early arrivals already introduced in the “Pine Holler Christmas” story include Littleberry Bedford (the new farmer recently moved into the abandoned Longenecker homestead over by Buffalo Crossing) and his family, old Cooter (the leader of the Hoppers Holler Raccoon Platoon), Floyd the House Mouse, Aunt Alma Mason, Myra Cookson and her ‘Pie Pantry & Goodies Shoppe’ over in Butterfield, Doc Adams, and — Goat.

Others new to the stories include an honest-to-goodness old mountain man given to telling tall tales, a far-from-home moose, a worn out old hound dog, a Native American couple searching for a new home, more problematic pigs, dashing ducks, a bothersome buzzard, a pair of owl brothers setting up to compete with the ‘Squirrelly World’ local newspaper, a performing circus bear (as opposed to Lily and Bobo, who are both retired, as you may recall), a frolicking and unconventional family of woodland bunnies, a Little Red Bear “mini-mini-me wannabe”, and others.

There is also an aged possum who has taken up residence in a pear tree behind Red’s cabin on Honey Hill.  He spends all day hanging upside down by his tail, despite Little Red Bear reminding him that possums “really ain’t supposed to do that”.  But he persists.  With good reason, he says.  Although he hasn’t told us what that reason is yet.

If you recall, there was that expansion work going on over at Bobo and Lily’s cabin in the first stories.  Just a brief mention, but I always wondered myself what that was all about.  Did you?  Bobo and Lily never said.

No collection of Little Red Bear adventures would be complete without some old steam locomotives and trains huffing, chuffing and puffing along. Another circus train, perhaps? There were those circus trains so talked about in the “Crossing the Two Forks” story in the first collection.  Could there be another?  As we learned, traveling circuses are very popular in the small towns, so suppose it could be possible another might be passing thru sometime.

There may be some old steamboats and paddlewheels coming into view around the bend, too.  Or is that just the wind whistling thru the pines?  Little Red Bear is adamant that he hears steamboat whistles coming from the big river, but when he looks nothing is there.  So, what could that be about?  These stories do take place in the land of Mark Twain, after all.

And of course, Little Red Bear and Cinnamon Charlie are always on the lookout for honey.  And as we know from the very first “The Rescue of Little Red Bear” story, that in and of itself can be precarious at times.

Little Red Bear and Cinnamon Charlie have both been working hard to learn ‘Pig’ ever since Swinestein came on the scene in “The Storm” story.  But every language has its own varied dialects, so with more new pigs maybe on the way, I’m hoping that is not another issue for them.  Only time will tell on that, I suppose.

Speaking of Cinnamon Charlie, he’s going to be going into his third year now when young’uns start to venture out on their own a bit more, approaching those “teen” years for a bear, and you never know what that may lead to.

And, not to worry you but suppose you should know, there is a rumour going around the backwoods that there is a giant, hulking and brawny brown bear on his way with an old score to settle with Little Red Bear.  Red is not the smallest, but certainly not the largest of bears either.

That is a little worrisome, given that Red is the main character and they are his stories, after all.  Can’t have anything untoward happen to the main character.  But as merely the writer, I honestly don’t have control over everything, dealing with wildlife with a mind of their own in the stories, so that is a concern.  Must see how that confrontation plays out if it comes to pass.  I’m hoping it’s just a baseless rumour.  Probably started in ‘Squirrelly World’.  But, one never knows I suppose, so best to be on the lookout for potential trouble.  We’ll have the medics standing by, just to be safe.

Also, potentially troublesome, word is going around that the weasels have been busy recruiting a “hired gun” of sorts to come in and deal with Albuquerque, the red fox Sheriff.  According to gossip chatter, it’s a notorious and nasty coyote from out west in Colorado.  That would certainly be a mismatch and could be messy. Sounds like the weasels aren’t going away any time soon and the little sheriff may have his paws full going forward.

There are a few other things happening too, that I probably shouldn’t mention yet, not to keep you awake at night worrying.  Just remember the lessons we learned in the “Sir Snapsalot” story and to never venture into Witches Holler, especially after midnight.

And it would probably be best to ignore the ‘Squirrelly World’ newspaper reviews and steer clear of the buzzards’ new roadside café, and you’ll most likely be fine.  Their ‘Raw Bar’ truly is what it says, although the freshness has recently been called into question.

As you can see, a lot of work to do now to keep new characters occupied and sort out these rumours and such.

If you have not yet read the first set of stories, “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!”, there is still time to catch up because we are going to be very busy here for a while getting the next collection ready for you – “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The Second Holler Over!” 

As the stories and characters do kind of build one after the other, we always recommend starting at the very beginning for the most fun and entertainment.  “The First Holler!” is available in both Print and eReader versions on Amazon to get you started, and is always Free on Kindle Unlimited.

Thanks as always for stopping by for a visit.  We’ll keep you updated as work progresses and things develop over the coming weeks.

If you’re looking for us, we’ll all be over yonder under the chestnut tree working on the stories.  If you don’t know where ‘over yonder’ is, just ask the possum hanging from the pear tree.  He’ll point you the way.  — Jim (and Red!)

Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

Family Sunday — “The Falling Leaves of Autumn”

Happy Autumn – Sunday – Family Day!

I  grew up raking leaves and jumping over and into leaf piles on Sunday afternoons. Then later raking them all into a pile over to where the summer vegetable garden had been and setting the pile on fire to burn them. Wonderful for improving the following season’s garden soil.  One of the most delightful scents of the year — burning leaves.  Crisp chilly days and the scent of burning leaves filling the air, an annual fall tradition and harbinger of the rapidly approaching holiday season and winter to follow.

"Falling Leaves" by John Sloane

“Falling Leaves” by John Sloane

I miss that. Many probably do not know the soul-comforting smell of burning leaves in the autumn air anymore. Nowadays the distinctive scents of autumn are gone, replaced by the endless droning of leaf blowers. Not the same to be sure, but as long as there are leaf piles to bury someone in, and to jump in and over until the legs call for a stop,  the back yards and front yards on a crisp autumn day can still be loads of family fun.

"Autumn Mood" by John Sloane

“Autumn Mood” by John Sloane

Autumn is a magical time of year. Shorter days. Chilly nights just right for a warming fire and sitting by the hearth. A refreshing cider or hot chocolate in hand.  Healthy exercise. Tossing a football and Frisbee, ultimately falling into the leaf pile with each catch.   A marvelous fall day to gather up all the family and head outdoors for a fun day of leaf raking – jumping – burying – leaping – collecting. Fresh air and exercise! And quality family time together, learning about the seasons and cycles of Mother Nature.

"Autumn Leaves" by John Sloane

“Autumn Leaves” by John Sloane

There are many old superstitions and beliefs about catching leaves in the fall.   Some folk believe it is good luck to catch a falling leaf.   Some even say that if you catch a falling leaf in autumn that you  will have a whole month of good luck. Others say that you should make a wish if you catch a falling leaf. There’s another school of thought that says if you catch a falling leaf on the first day of autumn you will not catch a cold all winter!

Pagan Europeans and some native North American cultures revered the oak tree and its leaves as sacred. Opinions differ on the professed benefits that accrue from catching falling leaves, whether on the actual first day of autumn or anytime during the autumn season.   Personally, I just think it’s fun, and made even more so on a windy day. “There it goes!”, and the chase is on.

Autumn Painting by John Sloane

Autumn Painting by John Sloane

Yet another tradition holds that you must keep the captured leaves until new green buds appear on the trees in the spring.  Only then can you safely dispose of them without the risk of ruining your fortunes.   As for me, I like to press them in heavy books with weights on top, and then coat them in Modge Podge, a clear coating to preserve and enjoy them all thru the year.  If you do that, be sure to catch them sooner than later, as newly-fallen leaves, more soft and supple to the touch, preserve and hold onto their colors much better than do the dried up, crinkly ones.

Here are some neat leaf projects to do with the little ones — Helping to teach them how to sew with Sewing Patterns on Leaves, Making Leaf Foxes, Leaf Chalk Art, and Making Fall Leaf Prints . And here is information on How To Preserve Fall Leaves. Check out and follow my Pinterest Boards for more ways to preserve autumn leaves, fun projects and information.  And more things “Autumn.”

"Autumn Shadows" by John Sloane

“Autumn Shadows” by John Sloane

So round up the family and head outdoors for a day of leaf-themed play.  Rake leaves. Gather and collect the most beautifully colored leaves and save them to press.  Catch a Frisbee and fall into a leaf pile.  See who can jump the biggest pile. Make some Leaf Art.  And most of all —  have fun!  The glorious season of autumn only comes once each year and is soon gone, giving way to winter.  So let’s enjoy it while we can.

Today’s Family Sunday writing featured the artwork of one of my favorite country artists, John Sloane. Visit his John Sloane Art Page for upcoming calendars and more information.

Thanks as always for visiting! And have a wonderful Family Day!  — Jim (and Red!)

ps — work on a special Christmas holiday short story featuring Little Red Bear and some of his friends is coming right along. Watch for it in December!

"Country Life" by John Sloane

“Country Life” by John Sloane

Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.