Falling for Fall in Shady Pines

Falling for Fall in Shady Pines

 Fall Is In The Air

This can’t be possible. It seems like Labor Day was just yesterday.

Now kids are back in school, football is once again on TV,  and warm clothing is popping up on racks everywhere you look.

Not only that, the days are getting shorter and Halloween candy already packs the store shevles. It’s only mid September people!

So what does all of this mean?

Don’t look now but the start of Fall is nearly upon us. Mark your calendar for September 22nd. This third season the year just happens to be a favorite in the small Southern town of Shady Pines.

Fun Facts to Share

Over at The Shady Pines Gazette News office, editor Zulah Talmadge has received a special request. It seems the teachers at Shady Pines Elementary want her to write about some fun Fall facts that children would enjoy. Here’s what she discovered.

Fall and Autumn are the same season! Autumn is just the formal way of saying it. Fall is when the weather starts getting cooler, the leaves change and some animals search for food to store up for Winter.

Colors associated with this season are red, orange, yellow, brown and black. Do you wear those colors in Fall?

Cue Fall To Begin

Throughout history Fall begins on what’s known as the Autumnal Equinox. It’s a fancy way of saying that on the Equinox, the sun spends as much time above the hoizon as it does below.  On that day (September 22) the sunrise and sunset are about 12 hours apart everywhere on the earth. The daylight hours are just a smidge longer.

Because this happens late in September, October is actually the first full month of Fall.

So when does Fall end? That happens on the Winter Soltice which is December 21st. That day is not only the start of Winter but it is the shortest day of the year becuse it has the least amount of daylight.

Believe me when I tell you it can get really cold here in Shady Pines in the Winter. Does that happen where you live? Wait. Before we get to all that, let’s get back to the season at hand.

Fun Fall Things To Do

For many Shady Pines families it’s become a tradition to take the children out to pick pumpkins and apples this time of year.

Besides carving pumpkins (sometimes for prizes) there are some wonderful recipes out there for pumpkin bread and apple cider. We found a recipe for pumpkin bread with walnuts that is really tasty. You can leave the nuts out if you or someone in your family is allergic.


We mentioned clothing earlier. If your wardrobe could use a little fall overhaul this is the time to do it. Sweater weather is on its way.

You might want to stock up on warm hats, mittens, boots and galoshes. Yes even those big rubbery boots will come in handy. Kids can find so much to do on those rainy, puddle filled days.

One more thing to remember. With each new season comes another chance to think about ways to be kind to our family members, neighbors and friends. Of course, that shouldn’t be just a Fall thing. Here in Shady Pines we try to make it an everyday thing!  Happy Fall y’all!!!


Can’t Buck What’s Happening In the Skies Above Shady Pines

Can’t Buck What’s Happening In the Skies Above Shady Pines

Starry, Starry, Night

This is so exciting! Folks in Shady Pines are all a twitter about what’s going on in the skies above our town this week and even waaaay beyond that.

Hi I’m Zulah Talmadge with The Shady Pines Gazette and I have news from the National Space Agency (NASA) Have you seen the incredible photos of galaxies and more they’ve just shared with all of us? These images are out of this world – literally!

They were taken with the powerful James Webb Space Telescope and show the deepest images of space we’ve ever seen.

If you want to know more about the many discoveries from the telescope and see some more amazing photos just CLICK HERE

It was the famous astronomer Carl Sagan who once said, “We are made of star stuff.” An astronomer is someone who studies stars and galaxies and all the science that goes with it.  So when Sagan said that famous line, he was reminding people that much of the matter of our bodies was created within the stars a really long time ago. He wanted people to know, we are marvelous, and our story is too.

This is the kind of message we want everyone in Shady Pines to realize. It doesn’t  matter if you’re young or old, rich or poor, you’re important and we value you. That’s goes for our animals, too!

Don’t Buck It

Here’s the other bit of news you need to know so you’ll be sure to look skyward starting tomorrow night. There’s a Buck Moon rising. What’s that you ask?

Well, it just happens to be July’s Supermoon and it’s the biggest and brightest of the year! Supermoons are normally bigger and brighter than regular ‘ole moons.  But this one is supposed to be the whopper. And according to various space websites Wednesday, July 13th is when you should be able to see it the best.

I bet you’re wondering how this moon got its name.  According to legend it’s because the antlers of male deer, or bucks, are in full-growth mode during this time. According to Almanac.com, bucks shed and regrow their antlers each year, forming a larger pair as the years pass.

Other names given this Buck super moon include: Feather Moulting Moon, Salmon Moon, Thunder Moon, and Halfway Summer Moon. Whatever you choose to call it, just remember to look up tomorrow night after sunset.

If you have binoculars or a telescope handy, you’ll be able to see the moon’s craters, mountains, ridges, and finer details.

Now, closer to home, Scoop the Cub Reporter and I will be out and about asking neighbors what they think of all this.

Think about it. What a wonderful way to get the kids and all the rest of us more excited about the world around us. We’re all connected you know. That’s why we need the moon and the stars to guide us!

***Please leave us a comment below***


Storm Clouds Threaten Fun on the Fourth in Shady Pines

Storm Clouds Threaten Fun on the Fourth in Shady Pines

Could Storms Drench The Fourth?

It’s won’t be long now.  That very American holiday, the Fourth of July is right around the corner.  Excitement is building in the small Southern town of Shady Pines, but so are storm clouds.
This is the frst time our residents are welcoming visitors back to enjoy the festivities since the pandemic began two years ago.
As you can imagine, Mayor Beauregard P. Fibbs is thrilled. He loves to celebrate our nation’s Independance Day and to promote the good things about our story tellin’ town. Oh, and, let’s face it, he likes to ride in his big ‘ole car in the parade down Main Street.
Our mayor will tell anyone who will listen that we’re a tight knit community dedicated to kindness, caring and working together to solve problems. But one problem we didn’t plan for is brewing off the coast.
Tropical Storm Colin is churning in the Atlantic and threatening to deliver a wallop of rain and punishing winds over the holiday weekend. Those rains are already soaking the coastal regions in the South.
Mayor Fibbs and other Shady Pines leaders will  track this storm system closely to make sure they can still go ahead with everything that’s supposed to happen on Monday.

Monday’s Schedule

Besides the parade in the morning which is always a hoot, the Community Center is set to host an afternoon ice cream social for the kids.
Director Rita Morena says this year she’s adding water balloon tossing. The children will get into two straight lines as they form teams.
Then, each player takes a big step back from their teammate and tosses the balloon to them.
The opposite player must catch the balloon without popping it. If a balloon pops, that team is out.
“The idea is to have fun,” says Rita. “At the same time we show the kids the importance of teamwork to achieve their goals.”

Picnics and Sailing

Around 5 o’clock folks head down to Stonewall Park with their picnic baskets and coolers. A lot of our local business like Maggie’s Diner, Fred’s Corner Grocer and Cup ‘O Joe’s coffee shop donate food and drinks.
But everyone is encouraged to make somethig to share with others.  After all, sharing is a form of kindness. We’re all about that in Shady Pines.
Meanwhile, some teenagers will be taking part in the regional sailing races that are held on our lake every year on the Fourth. 
The folks attending the picnic in the park provide a built in cheering section for the kids and their racing boats.  And the winners of each division get a trophy.

Safety First On The Fourth

Once the sailboats are off the water and darkness falls it’s time for fireworks. This is one of our favorite traditions. We love to say, “Ah!” when seeing the explosions of color reflect off the lake.
It’s also a time to remind everyone that our pets and veterans can really be bothered by the sound of those booming explosions. Our small animals get scared, shiver with fear and look everywhere for a place to hide. If you know your neighbors have pets who respond negatively to fireworks, please be respectful.

Pets, Vets, and Kids

Likewise, men and women who have been to war, hear those sounds and it takes them right back to the horror of the battlefield. Look for a sign like this in front of someone’s house. If you see it make sure you don’t shoot off any backyard fireworks anywhere near their home.
Besides pets and veterans don’t forget to watch out for the safety of children as well.Shady Pines Story Town logo  Bottom line, in Shady Pines no matter what the weather or the holiday Compassion Never Takes a Holiday!
Summer Begins In Shady Pines!

Summer Begins In Shady Pines!

Summer Blazes In

It’s here! The actual start of summer has arrived. But for many folks in Shady Pines Story Town, it’s felt like summer for weeks now. Temperatures this June and even before that, have been soaring into the high 90’s. The air often feels like it’s 100 degrees or more.

Over at The Shady Pines Gazette news office, editor Zulah Talmadge has made a decision. She needs to get out and report on summer heat in the South.

“You have to admit this region has all sorts of weather extremes,” says Zulah as she looks for her tape recorder. “I mean we have tornadoes, droughts, fires, and of course we’re smack dab into hurricane season right now. But heat is a separate category!”

She heads downtown to Main Street to see what people are saying about this toasty start to the summer season.

Before she can pop into Maggie’s Diner where gosssip is served up right along with that day’s special sandwich, Zulah runs into Kim Dunworthy. Mail carrier Kim is coming out of Cup ‘O Joe’s coffee shop.

Clearly she has her hands full.

“Hey Kim, may I help you?” asks Zulah.

“Oh, yes Ms. Zulah. That’s very kind of you,” says Kim as she stoops and tries to collect the packages and letters she’s dropped. “I think I got a little ambitious about the number of things I could carry at one time.”

Zulah leans down and helps her collect the scattered items. “While you’re here Kim, maybe you can help me out.”

“Sure. What do you need?”

“I’m doing a story about summer heat in the South, ” says Zulah. “You grew up in neighboring River City, what’s your take?”

“I look at the summer heat as our very own sweat badge of courage,” says Kim. “We seem to cope with sweltering heat that would undo most folks. And, in the words of my momma, we handle it gracefully.”

Zulah chukles as she makes notes in her reporter’s notebook. “That’s great. Thank you Kim. See ya later.”

“See ya Ms. Zulah.”

It’s not enough for Southerners to bravely endure the heat. One thing Zulah knows for sure. They love to talk about it. She decides to do some man – and women – on the street interviews.

“Excuse me ma’am. I’m Zulah Talmadge with The Shady Pines Gazette. When I say summer heat, what comes to mind?”

The stately lady in the flowing dress and wide brimmed hat dabs her face with her hankerchief. “As a Southern woman, I say we don’t sweat. We glisten.”

Zulah nods. “Got it.”

Here are some other reactions Zulah heard.

People Are Talking

  • It’s not the heat – it’s the humidity
  • It’s hotter than Blue Blazes
  • Is it hot enough for ya?
  • Man, it’s hot as all get-out!
  • It must be 90 in the shade
  • This one’s gonna be a sorcher
  • You could fry an egg on the sidewalk

How Hot Is It Really?

  • It’s so hot the swimming pool is boiling
  • It’s so hot the ice cream truck has melted
  • It’s like a steam bath out here
  • I’m wilting
  • I’m burning slap up
  • Could I stick my face in your deep freeze for just a second?

Be Careful In The Heat

After listening to all the colorful ways her neighbors talk about extreme heat, Zulah wants her article to include a reminder. “This kind of extreme heat can be dangerous, especially to kids, the elderly and to our pets. We really need to take some precautions.”

Zulah finds an article: ‘High temperatures and extreme heat can cause children to become sick very quickly in several ways. It can cause dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat stroke​, which is a medical emergency.’  For more information go to: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/Protecting-Children-from-Extreme-Heat-Information-for-Parents.aspx

Final Thoughts

Zulah heads back to The Gazette office with loads of information for her article. She’s discovered some important things.

“It’s amazing how many expressions Southerners can haul out to explain just how dang uncomfortable it really is in our neck of the woods,” says Zulah. “We seem to use humor as a way to deal with extreme situations. At the same time, we need to take dangerous summer heat seriously and watch out for one another.”

And that’s the the most important takeaway of all in the small Southern town of Shady Pines.

A Father’s Day Salute to Shady Pines’ Favorite Dad

A Father’s Day Salute to Shady Pines’ Favorite Dad

 A Father’s Day Gift of Love

We’re just days away now from an important date on the calendar. Father’s Day is celebrated nationwide on Sunday, June 19th.

In Shady Pines on this lazy Sunday afternoon in the Sanders’ home, Harold Sanders is feeling a little down.

He’s in the den slouched on his big, comfy chair watching his favorite baseball team on TV.

It’s late in the game and Harold’s guys are two runs ahead of the other team. What’s so bad?

Harold should be happy. But it’s the commercials that are affecting his mood.

Selling The Day

“Why do they make such a fuss about Father’s Day?” he wonders out loud. “It’s ridiculous.”

Harold’s wife, Edna, is across the room lounging on the couch. She’s looking through recipes in her latest cooking magazine while listening to the ballgame. “What’s that dear?”

Harold swivels and faces her. “I’m sick and tired of all the fuss these advertisements make to get people to buy the right gift for Father’s Day. What IS the Right gift? It’s just a way for companies to sell stuff and make money.”

Edna can see that he’s upset. “Honey, what’s really wrong?” she asks.

Harold turns the volume down on the TV. “What’s supposed to happen when your children are covered in fur? They’re not going to buy me a mower.”

When The Kids Have 4 Legs

Before Edna can answer, a silver cat in full flight charges into the room chased by a handsome Australian Shepherd dog. “Halley, you are such a pain. Give me my toy back!”

Halley’s Comet carries a small chew toy in her mouth. In one clean leap she lands on the wooden desk in the corner of the room. “I don’t see your name on it, Booo-mer-rang!”

“You know darn well that’s my toy,” says Boomer. “Dad gave it to me for my birthday.”

“Funny, I don’t remember that,” says Halley looking down at the angry pooch.

Boomer points at the toy. “Well look at it, will ya!”

Harold sighs, gets up, and walks over to the desk. He throws the birthday cake toy down to Boomer and slings Halley over his shoulder while stroking her back.  “Halley my girl, you love to taunt him, don’t you?”

Edna agrees. “Yes she does. Sibling rivalry just like human brothers and sisters.”

Harold delivers Halley to Edna’s lap and then gets down on the floor to address Boomer. He pets the dog’s head. “Boomer my boy. I love you but you don’t need to get so riled up. Halley lives for that.”

Harold moves over to sift through the toy basket under the desk. “He holds up Mr. rubber lizard. “C’mon Halley. Come here, girl.”

It’s All About Love and Kindness

Halley jumps off of Edna’s lap and trots happily across the room. Harold gives her the toy. “You know I love you, too, girl. But, please, play with your own toys.”

Harold looks over at Edna who is smiling. “What?” he asks.

“Do you know what a wonderful father you are? You show our kids love and kindness everyday. And they love you right back. Look at them.”

Harold still sits on the floor and realizes that his children are beside him.

Harold lowers and shakes his head. “What’s the matter with me?” he asks. “I have a wonderful wife and a couple of rambuctious, terrific kids who love me. I am a lucky husband and father indeed!”

Edna joins him on the floor and hugs him. “Yes, and besides that, they may have something for you next Sunday that you’re not expecting.”

Be Careful What You Wish For

Harold looks straight into her eys. “Oh, please tell me it will not be crawling, slithering or flying through the house. You know how our daughter likes to surprise us!”

Edna laughs. Boomer barks. Halley tilts her head and thinks about what “gift” she can catch and bring to dad. Birds are fun…

And that’s how we leave the Sanders on a lovely Sunday in the small Southern town of Shady Pines!

Boomer and Halley Worry. Are We Safe in Shady Pines?

Boomer and Halley Worry. Are We Safe in Shady Pines?

Are We Safe?

Troubling images flicker across the TV at the Sanders house near downtown Shady Pines. It’s the same in households across the country.

Edna Sanders tries to prepare dinner. But her attention keeps being drawn to the screen on the kitchen counter.

It’s been this way ever since news of the horrific school shooting in Uvalde, Texas was first broadcast. Nineteen elementary students and two teachers gunned down by an 18 year old man with an assault rifle.


“This is horrible,” says Edna. “Those poor little kids. Their parents and families. Those brave teachers. That town. It’s just too much.” Edna buries her face in her hands.

The back door opens and Edna’s husband, Harold arrives with the family’s dog, Boomerang. He took the handsome Australian Shepherd with him to work at his Nut’s ‘N Bolts hardware store. “Honey, we’re home.”

Harold unclicks the leash from Boomer’s collar, hangs it on its hook, and strokes the dog’s head. “I’m proud of you, Boomer. You were a very good boy today.”

Meanwhile, Halley’s Comet has been snoozing on her favorite window seat. The silver streak of a cat is worried. “Why’s mom so emotional? What is she watching on TV that has her in tears?” Once Halley sees Boomer coming through the door, the elegant cat has a complete change of mood.

Offering Comfort

“What on earth could you have done to make dad proud of you?” asks an annoyed Halley.

“Oh, wouldn’t you like to know?” snarls Boomer.

“Not really.”

“I greeted everyone. A lot of them were upset. They petted me and seemed to calm down.”

“That’s surprising. You have the opposite effect on me.” But it got Halley’s attention. “Mom’s been really upset, too.”

Harold takes one look at his wife and rushes to her. “Edna, sweetie, what wrong?”

Edna gets up from sitting at the kitchen table and gives him a hug. “I feel such deep sorrow for everyone in Uvalde. I can’t help wonder, what if that happened here?”

Harold looks at her. “I know what you mean. That’s what everyone is talking about at the store.”

Edna dabs her eyes with a paper napkin. “We like to feel we’re safe in our small Southern town.”

Harold nods. “Yea, except, these mass shootings keep happening at stores, malls, concerts, places where people worship, and again at an elementary school!”

A Loving Family

Boomer crosses the room and plops his favorite rawhide bone at the feet of his parents.

“Why did ya do that?” asks Halley.

“I want them to know I love them.”

With that, Halley wanders over and rubs against her parent’s legs. “Okay, that is actually kinda nice.”

Both Harold and Edna reach down and hug their four-legged children.

“We love you two SO much,” says Edna.

Harold agrees. “And we will do whatever we can to keep you both safe. I just hope it will always be enough.”

**Please Leave a Comment Below**