April 13, 2015

April 13, 2015

CHAMPION—April 13, 2015

        It is a joy to see a hummingbird at the feeder again as hour by hour spring is more pronounced in Champion.  Monday morning’s hard little rain was just what the garden needed.  The mushrooms will be encouraged to continue popping up out in the woods and daily life will carry on at its most tranquil pace.  The Champion Stump over on the South side of the Square is such an eye catcher that new neighbors to the north have sought to emulate it.  The monolith has been copied with some success, but the new ones will likely be pared down to fence post height.  A little farther up the road that particular kind of logging that leaves a twisted, tortured landscape behind, full of split and damaged saplings, has been going on for a while.  The only constant is change.

        Vanzant neighbors came out in force on Sunday to help River Stillwood get started on recovering from the Good Friday tornado.  She said, ”Heartfelt thanks to everyone who came out today…You were awesome, accomplished an incredible amount and were a joy to work with.  The place looks so much better because of you.  My heart swells with gratitude…”

        The news that Lannie Hinote will be leaving Skyline School is a surprise.  She has been an inspiring presence there for a long time and will be sorely missed.  The good thing is that she will have to learn how to salmon fish.  That will be no chore for a woman who loves fishing the way she does.  She will be moving to the Western Yukon Valley in Alaska where she will teach in a place called Mountain Village.  She will be posting pictures of the Northern Lights and selfies with her salmon and, thanks to the internet, her many friends here will be able to keep up with her adventures.  All her Champion friends will be wishing her good luck and great success.

        Meanwhile, back at Skyline, Mr. Roworth, Mr. Scrivner, Mr. Krider, and Mr. Brixey have been joined by Mr. Strong and Mr. Moody on the School Board.  It is their task to take a pitiful little amount of money and spread it around to all the places where money is required to keep the wonderful little rural school going.  Someone said recently, “If we disparage education, label informed people as ‘elitist’, and regularly question proven history and science, we can get millions of Americans to vote against their own well-being.”  The Student News Daily says, “We all want the same things in life.  We want freedom; we want the chance for prosperity; we want as few people suffering as possible; we want healthy children; we want to have crime-free streets.  The argument is how to achieve them.”  These youngsters at Skyline are doing their part now to become the educated, informed voters who will be able to engage in that argument in a productive way.  A US citizen must be seventeen and a half years of age to register to vote and 18 years of age to vote and a resident of Missouri to vote here.  Champions vote!

        Ethel Leach agreed to act as an informant for The Champion News covering last week’s Wednesday Confab in the Meeting Room of the Historic Emporium, though she said, “Things just go in one ear and out the other.”  She has been doing her chores on the farm and hanging out with Bob and otherwise occupied so her report is running a little late.  According to other sources, there were some notable absences which may result in a check mark by their name on the roster if it happens again.  The Skyline VFD Auxiliary met at Henson’s Grocery and Gas on Wednesday evening.  The meeting was well attended and a variety of issues were discussed including the recent chili supper and possible changes and improvements for the event next year.  Equipment for the volunteer firefighters is always the major focus of the Auxiliary.  Currently they are looking into a specialized kind of glove that will allow the firefighters to work more safely and efficiently.  Another meeting is being scheduled for June 10th when the Skyline VFD Picnic will be the subject of discussion.  Like the school, this little rural fire department is a key element in a vital community.

        Ms. Ayn Trope and Eulalia Jasmin both wrote in this week with humorous comments about how anyone could possibly use G. Gordon Liddy as a source for a definition of liberalism or any other thing.  (He said a liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.)  “Fifty two months in the big house as the chief executive of the White House Plumbers Unit, convicted of burglary and conspiracy, does not make him a credible source for anything except how to get caught doing underhanded things to damage the political process.”  Ayn is not big on tact, which Winston Churchill said was “the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.”  Ayn writes to champion@championnew.us and Ms. Jasmin writes to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  Share your thoughts on tact or any other subject at either of these addresses.

Olivia Trig Mastin with her big crawdad.
Dylan Watts with his big fish.

        Olivia Trigg Mastin is turning ten years old.  She is a regular summertime visitor to the Mill Pond down at Veracruz.  She comes with her Grandmother every year to the Fourth of July festivities there.  Last year she caught a Champion sized crawdad and she is well on her way to being the fisherman that Lannie Hinote is.  “The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable and a perpetual series of occasions for hope.  “John Buchanan’s quote was shared by the late Phyllis Winn, who would not say that we are naive for being hopeful.  Dylan Watts changed the picture on his facebook profile to one of himself with a fish that looks longer than his arm and bigger around, though it looks like it would take some considerable strength to hold it up.  Dylan has just celebrated his 16th birthday and now is a legal driver.  His uncle Dustin says his driver’s license picture looks like a mug shot, but the picture of him holding the license shows a nice smile on his mug.  There are pictures of him with his banjo and a bunch of musical cousins and a picture of him in his suit looking very mature as he is getting ready to compete in a national speech contest.  He has a lot going on for someone who is just sixteen.  It seems that he is destined to be an entertainer having started out at the tender age of three on stage with has granddad at the Skyline Picnic singing “I’ll Fly Away.”

        Linda’s Almanac from over at The Plant Place in Norwood says that the 15th and 16th will be good days to plant root crops, to transplant, to prune to encourage growth and to apply organic fertilizer.  The 18th is good to prune to discourage growth and the 19th and the 20th will be good days for planting above ground crops.  It is hard to remember that the tenth of May is the approximate date of last frost in this area.  It is easy to get too many things out too early.  Sing, “Wait till the sun shines, Nellie!” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

April 6, 2015

April 6, 2015

CHAMPION—April 6, 2015

The Krider family in Downtown Champion. Krider siblings in front, left to right, Harley, Vivian Krider Floyd, and Donald. Fae Krider to the left behind Harley, then Barbara Krider and Rita Krider.

        An eventful week in Champion started off in the regular way and then Harley and Barbara came home to look after their place.  With some help Harley finally finished up a project that he had started last year when he replaced a water line.  Over the course of the summer the landscaping will look as if nothing ever happened.  The only evidence of all the hard work will be in the free flowing water and the archives of The Champion News.  Then came Wednesday and the great confab in the Meeting Room at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square.  In attendance were a number of regular participants:  Mr. and Mrs. Leach, Mr. and Mrs. Partell, various shy members of the family Stone and some who know that when they open their mouths they are obligated to say something more beautiful than silence.  What made this confab so great was the presence of Harley and Barbara Krider,  Donald and Rita Krider, Fae Upshaw Krider, and her brother Robert (The General) Upshaw, and the Krider brother’s sister, Vivian Krider Floyd and her son Larry Floyd and his wife, Gayla, and their little dog, Cloe.

Larry and Gayla Floyd and little dog, Cleo, visit with cousin Leslee Krider and Breauna. Taegan Krider is in the back enjoying cousins Foster and Kalyssa Wiseman. It was a beautiful day for Champion gatherings.

It was a significant confab with laughter and knee slapping and reminiscing in spades. The next day was Thursday. It may be time for a new paragraph.

        A sultry and warm sunny Thursday found people working in the garden and others getting the lawn mower tuned up and ready.  Ron Hurst had everybody’s attention on the six o’clock news with dire predictions of dangerous weather.  He was on, off and on, all evening until just after midnight (about 12:20) when he said, “We see some rotation in Central Douglas County.  If you are two miles north of Champion, south of Cold Springs and east of Brushy Knob, south west of Denlow and due west of Vanzant you need to be in your storm shelter now.”  One of Champion’s favorite Ms. Powells lost the roof of her well house and soon thereafter an EF-1 tornado took the little building that had, at one time, been the Temporary Annex of the Historic Emporium in Downtown Champion and subsequently became a storage building for the Vanzant Country Store.  In its new location in Vanzant it was blown apart by the storm together with fifty beautiful old trees there on River Stillwood’s place.  She says the roof of her old house is a sieve and some windows were broken.  She lost a number of animals as well.  It looks as if her Grand Adventure of hiking the Pacific Coast Trail will have to be put on hold while she rebuilds.  She says it will be an adventure of another kind.  She will have help from good neighbors and the good wishes of her Champion friends.  Many big trees on the Black Gate Farm were broken or uprooted.  There was damage to the red barn that had survived when the Vanzant Post Office burned down years ago across Highway 95 from Esther’s house.  Esther’s friend and neighbor, Corrine Rogers, lost some trees and had a little damage to the underpinning of her house but otherwise her grandson Billy says they came through it fine.  Up W Highway, the perfect little log cabin that The General, who slept soundly through the storm, thinks was built by James Souder eighty to a hundred years ago is gone now.  Fortunately there are some good photographs of it, but it brings to mind the fragile nature of a number of delicate historic buildings in the area that are in decline.  The Vanzant Community Building is standing still (and chances are good that the regular Thursday night pot luck and bluegrass Jam will happen there on the 9th).  In three minutes on the ground this tornado brought significant damage, but luckily no injuries and no loss of life apart from livestock, which is indeed a loss.  There are messes to clean up and lots of firewood downed already for next winter, but there is hardly anyone who is not grateful for having been spared.  Good Friday was full of Revelation (Wow!), Resolution (We’ll be better prepared next time.) and Relief (Whew!)  It seems time for another new paragraph.

        Saturday morning between 5:00 and 6:00 a.m. the total lunar eclipse reached its maximum bloody redness just as the whole thing slipped down behind the hill.  Probably Deward Henson’s granddaughter could see it well, but the folks living in Ezra’s old place missed it by that much.  Wilburn and Louise Hutchison also have an excellent vantage point and probably James and Jana Brixey do as well up on The High Road.  Maybe some of them saw the magic of the eclipse and will share their visions.  Saturday warmed up and was a glorious day—a day fit for the Champion Easter Parade.  Barbara Krider has won “Best Dressed,” hands down, in previous years when her haute couture armadillo handbags dazzled judges.  “Stunning” was the appellation.  This time the procession was elegant and reflective as the pageant made a clockwise circuit of the Square.   Posing with solemnity perched on a huge dismembered limb lying at the foot of the Colossal Stump (Vivian said, “first base,”) Barbara’s gaze was serene, and her little blue shoes were absolutely the cutest little things the judges had ever seen.  They were Mary Janes, for goodness sake, with little white straps and a round little heel and toe in the prettiest sky blue imaginable.  Once again Barbara’s style knocks it out of the park.  The Easter Bunny slept in on Sunday after all of Saturday’s excitement.  He was resting up to celebrate the 40th wedding anniversary of The General and his amazing, uncomplaining, understanding, and kindly indulgent Missus.  Talk about a Champion!

        Birthday greetings go to Forrest Johnson on April 2nd.  He is a great musician, a gardener and adventurer hopefully coming back to Champion soon in good company.  Bud Hutchison has his birthday the 8th.  He’ll be trail riding through again in early May.  Dillon Watts celebrates on the 12th.  He is a natural entertainer like his Granddad.  He looks like his Grandad and would make the man proud.   Bob Berry celebrates on the 14th.  His friends hope he is taking his Studebaker and the fair Mary out for a spin.  Skyline Archer Morgan Whitacre also celebrates on the 14th.  She shares the day with second grader Coby Wallace.  Wyatt Lakey is a kindergarten student at Skyline.  His birthday will always be easy to remember.  Tax day—April 15.  He shares it with Vivian Krider Floyd, with Vivian’s nephew-in-law Dustin Cline, father of Drayson and Carson, and with Mr. George G. Jones , a gentleman of note.  The next day, the 16th, is given over to Olivia Trig Mastin who caught the biggest crawdad on record down at the Millpond last 4th of July.  Happy birthday all!

A photogenic deer enjoys some tender spring grass in Champion.

        Just a month ago there was still a great deal of snow on the ground.  Now Old Champions are being noisy on their lawn mowers trying to get ahead of the verdant growth likely caused by the beautiful snow.  In the last few days the internet is full of pictures of morel mushrooms.  Time is moving quickly.  Senator Sanders reminds us that is better show up than to give up.  Neil deGrass Tyson, the astrophysicists, tells us that we cannot blame politicians for the wretched condition in which we find our Nation and the world.  He contends that the electorate is to blame.  Help keep it a democracy by participating.  Vote every chance you get.  It has never been more important.  A friend admonishes to “Walk in Balance” and that is excellent advice in these tumultuous times.  A song for Spring lifts the spirits.  “And there was music, And there were wonderful roses, They tell me, In sweet fragrant meadows of dawn, and dew” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

March 30, 2015

March 30, 2015

CHAMPION—March 30, 2015

        After a few warm days a little cold snap seems mighty cold.  In a couple of months people will be complaining about the heat and so it goes.  The only constant is change.  Walnuts are some of the last trees to leaf out, so the mystery of the colossal stump will linger.  It may be sprouted out before the brush is cleaned up.  Meanwhile, the bees seem to be doing well and everyone is pleased about that.  George Bailey would say something to the effect, “What service does the honey bee!  Wild or domestic, bees do most of the pollinating (living and dying) around here, Mr. Potter.  Well, is it too much to ask that they do their pollinating (living and dying) in a poison free environment?”  That conversation did not occur, but the question is a valid one.  Honeybees, wild and domestic, are losing ground with various agricultural chemicals and insecticides across the nation.  Champions are grateful for the ‘wild bunch’ living in the enormous stump on the South side of the Square.  It is a gift to live in a part of the world that enjoys wild pollinators, bear, and eagles, as well as the annoying ticks and chiggers, without which this country would surely be overrun with tourists.

Clever Creek

        Elmer’s little black hen toured Champion last week.  She had found a nice spot to lay her eggs in his Kubota RTV and happened to be engaged in that activity when Elmer made his trip over to Henson’s Downtown G & G.  When they arrived the hen got out and took a stroll around the Square.  Elmer gave the two eggs to the storekeeper.  The little chicken is not accustomed to being around people so as more joined in the round-up effort, she became more elusive.  After a while they gave up and the banty spent the day exploring and grazing, scratching around the periphery of the Square.  She found water and generally made herself at home until Elmer came back the next day.  She must have been ready to go because she resumed her place in the Kubota when Elmer went in the store.  Frances raised the hen and was likely glad to see her back in her own yard.  Frances and Elmer have been enjoying the Thursday night pot-luck bluegrass jam over at the Vanzant Community Building.  Supper is served at six and then the music starts.  Elmer said the previous week there had been about fifty people there in addition to the musicians.  He was most impressed by a couple from Canada who have joined the musician’s circle.  Now that the weather has moderated, perhaps the music lovers will come out for the fun.  Laine Sutherland has been doing a good job of keeping the internet full of references to the 32nd Annual Fiddlers Convention at the North Arkansas College in Harrison.  She posts some nice tunes featuring Alvie Dooms, Bill Conley, John White, James Ruth, JR Johnston, and Rachel Reynolds Luster.  There was a great piece by Tim Daniels on a 5 string fiddle, Kathleen Gustafson on mandolin and Dave Gustafson on guitar.  The song was Have You Met Miss Jones?  Without a single word being sung, the music makes a person very much want to meet Miss Jones.

        A Champion friend from over in Jordan, MO is spending a few days up in Old Jeff (Jefferson City) doing what he can to help expand Medicaid in Missouri.  As it is, the ‘gap’ insures that if a person of modest means (a family of 3 making over $3,600.00 per year) has a serious accident or illness, he can expect that his medical treatment will bring him to bankruptcy and possibly homelessness.  In this generally low income area with an aging population, it might be surprising who all would genuinely benefit by the expansion of Medicaid.  The benefits would not only improve the quality of life for folks in marginal financial circumstances but could help restore some of the small hospitals and provide jobs for people in the health care industry.  It will bring two billion tax dollars back into the State.  Folks down in Arkansas have had good luck with it, and while Missouri is not generally the first in line to follow Arkansas’ lead, in this instance it might well be prudent.

A pastoral scene near downtown Champion.

        Fourth grade student Jhonn Rhodes has his birthday on April 1st.  That probably has made for some interesting birthday parties over the years and will for years to come.  Happy Birthday, Jhonn!  Lannie Hinote reported that the Skyline archers had a wonderful showing for their school at the State Archery Tournament that was held at the Tan-Tar-A Resort at the Lake of the Ozarks.  They competed with 86 other schools and 1,400 archers.  Morgan Whitacre, Levi Hicks, Gavin Sartor, and Dylan Ford competed for Skyline and local high school archers were Tristen Shearer and Lukas Brown.  This excellent archery program is a feather in the cap of this wonderful little rural school.  The Douglas County Health Department will be at Skyline on Tuesday, April 7th.  They do blood pressure checks and a variety of other health screenings free for the community from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m.  It is a good example of the school supporting the community and the community supporting the school.  Champion!

        It is a lucky individual who gets a chance to correct her mistakes.  Last week the favorite meteorologist of the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department was misnamed as Amy Dyer.  The lady’s name is Abby Dyer.  Apologies are extended to Ms. Dyer herself, to the whole Skyline VFD and to certain firefighters in particular.  If she reads The Champion News, she knows what a fan club she has in central Douglas County.  Esther Wrinkles used to write the items from Champion and later from Vanzant.  She wrote for the better part of fifty years and once in a conversation with her it was said that sometimes making a mistake is a way to revisit a subject in a future article.  Her friends miss Esther and wonder what she would have to say about the tallest stump in town.  Notes from Hunter Creek also had some corrections this week, but mostly it was full of good information about morel mushrooms and neighborhood snakes.  Everyone will soon be on the lookout for May apples and the bragging will begin.  The Cowboy will probably find the first and the most, but he only shares with certain people.  The whole idea of exclusivity is that some, by the very definition of the word, are excluded.  There is no use in having your feelings hurt about it.  Just go find your own mushrooms and figure that if you brag about it too much someone will dog your heels until they find your patch and then you will be sorry.  Bon appetite!

        Linda’s Almanac from over at The Plant Place says that the third will be a good day for planting above ground crops and the fourth through the seventh will be good for root crops.  These will also be good days to transplant.  Linda is open for business now with her pretty broccoli and other cole crops and lettuce.  It is the plan of a number of old folks to get a lot accomplished in the garden without wearing themselves out completely.  Send your garden plans and maps to your mushroom patches to champion@championnews.us or to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  Find the almanac on the bulletin board in the meeting room at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium, up at The Plant Place in Norwood and at www.championnews.us.  The www stands for wide, wild and wooly in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

March 23, 2015

March 23, 2015

CHAMPION—March 23, 2015

Champion Drifts

        A few warm, sunny days in a row has lifted the spirits of many an old Champion and some of them are stiff and sore from overexertion after being comfortable around the fire all winter.  Others have farm chores that they get out and do every morning, up and out of the house by seven.  They are feeding cattle, checking fences, looking after their agrarian responsibilities, day in and day out, no matter what the weather.  In addition to wholesome food, they provide an excellent example for good living and they are probably not stiff and sore and surely not sunburned.

Gordon Reynolds and his friend Sam
Artist, Morag Edward

        Elizabeth Mastrangelo Brown was 23 in 2013.  She is a little older now, having had her birthday on the 16th.  The poet, Billy Collins was born on March 22, 1941.  He said, “A sentence starts out like a lone traveler heading into a blizzard at midnight, tilting into the wind, one arm shielding his face, the tails of his thin coat flapping behind him.”  The 23rd belongs to the local Maytag repair man, to Elva Upshaw Brott, still a smiling bride, and to Judie Pennington who says, “Two nights in a row of 55 degrees, and some sun and Wow! Mushrooms!  Generally around tax time.” Because her friend does not really know if Judie’s birthday is in February or March, she gets celebrated twice every year. A lovely gentleman in Edinburgh, Mr. Gordon Reynolds, also celebrates on the 23rd.  He is an excellent musician and the go-to guy if you are looking for real bluegrass music in that fair city.  Troy Powell had a wonderful smile and a great appreciation of bluegrass and gospel music.  He was born on March 26, 1926, and passed away on his birthday in 2001.  Jasmine Baker is in the third grade at Skyline School.  Her birthday is the 27th.  She shares the day with school bus driver, Mr. Ted.  Joseph Fulk is a kindergarten student who celebrates the 28th, and seventh grader, Gavin Sartor, celebrates the 29th.  Ewan McGregor and Christopher Walken, movie actors, Cesar Chaves, Al Gore, and Barney Frank, political activists, Rene Descartes, philosopher, and composer, Joseph Haydn, all share their birthday with Edinburgh’s charming artist, Morag Edward, on March 31st.  That is quite a pool of talent across many disciplines.

        Among the many subjects covered in the Wednesday Champion Chat was the number of grease rack bridges in the area.  Mr. Ray says they are also called stringers and steel ‘railins.’  Bob Leach drove a big truck (maybe he said a feed truck) over a high grease rack bridge across the Gasconade.  Ray had an adventure across one closer to the water and one of the Mr. Stones said there is a bridge made of white oak logs across a branch around here somewhere.  It might be a savings of materials to have an open place down the middle of the bridge, but it might pose an engineering problem, and certainly a pedestrian might be challenged.  A newcomer to the discussion heard a regular say that he had been going someplace down in Arkansas for twenty-three years running.  Later on, the newcomer asked, “What were they running.  Was it horses or was it dogs? “  By the time he spends a few hours around those tables, the new Champion will know that ‘running,’ in this instance, means ‘consecutive years.’  He will be hearing all manner of things at the table as well as in the great outdoors in his new neighborhood.  Sound echoes and amplifies through the hills and hollers.  A conversation, clear as a bell, might drift into the back yard clothes line from down the road, across a horse pasture, and on the other side of a hill.  That chainsaw running might sound like the front yard trees are being harvested when “Timber!” is being shouted on the other side of the mountain.  The wonders of this beautiful part of the world include starry nights with no light pollution and a welcoming community.  Champion!

        One of Elmore Leonard’s fictional characters is an eloquent speaker by the name of Boyd Crowder.  During a period of religious fervor, he cautioned against “a gift that blinds the eyes of the wise and diverts the words of the righteous.”  It is unclear if this is scriptural or just poetic.  Boyd might discuss Acts 23:5 where Paul says not to speak evil of the ruler of thy people or Romans 5 where tribulation works patience and patience, experience and experience, hope.  “Those who control their passions do so because their passions are weak enough to be controlled.”  That is according to William Blake.  Fredrick Douglas said,” It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”  “You have to laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep yourself in balance, just to keep the world from running you plumb crazy.”  Ken Kesey said that and Retired Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson (U.S. Army Retired) says to politicians who want US ground troops deployed:  “Let’s draft your kids.”  There is a lot of money to be made in war.  It has been suggested that Mr. Cheney and Haliburton (Brown and Root) could well afford to look after all the Veterans and their families of all the wars since the bombing of Bagdad back in 2003.  Back then Brent Scowcroft wrote that “Possibly the most dire consequences would be the effect in the region… there would be an explosion of outrage against us… the results could well destabilize Arab regimes”, and, “could even swell the ranks of the terrorists.”  The millions of people who protested that war around the world (three million in Rome, a million in Australia, a million in New York City, and Washington D.C., etc.) can now say, “We told you so.”  That does not, as they say, “feed the bulldog.”  Ray Charles sang, “The world is in an uproar.  Danger’s all around.”  A Champion sings, “If you were a dainty dish of sweet cream butter and I was a fancy filigreed silver butter knife, I’d smear you all over these hills, just like the daffodils.”

        According to Linda’s Almanac from up at The Plant Place in Norwood, the 27th and 28th will be the best days to plant above ground crops.  Ron, the weatherman and the lovely Amy Dyer, say a cold front will be moving in about that time.  Champions will just take what comes and make the best of it.  People living in low lying areas with early crops in already will have to devise ways to cover them against a hard frost.  The almanac is up on the bulletin board by the back door in the meeting room at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion.  Come add your wisdom to the conversation and share your garden lore.  Pete Seeger says, “Inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow.  Please bless these seeds I sow, ‘til the rain comes tumbling down” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

March 16, 2015

March 16, 2015

CHAMPION—March 16, 2015

        “It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold:  when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”  Charles Dickens said those and several pounds of other interesting words.  These fit Champion well just now as sighs of relief add to the breezes and winter’s woes are being replaced by greening things and daffodils.  There may be more winter ahead even after Spring officially arrives, still the collective feeling is one of reprieve.  Passersby on a Wednesday morning trip to Ava saw Wayne and Joann Anderson sitting out on the back porch of the old house, the morning porch, watching the fog burn off the countryside stretched out there before them.  It was a peaceful scene that might have been captured in a painting or at least on film, but the prospect of disturbing such sweet reverie to preserve it seemed counterintuitive.  It looked like a private moment.

Sisters, Linda Keys and Marjorie Carter, enjoy the sunny side of the street on the garden bench that Marjorie won in the drawing at the Skyline VFD Auxiliary Chili Supper on Saturday, March 7th. Included in the prize was the 42 inch cast stone fire pit. Ms. Carter has owned and operated Downtown Pawn on the square in Mountain Grove for twenty years and has been a regular benefactor of the various rural fire departments in the area. She says this is the first thing she has ever won and that she and her family will really enjoy it in her back yard this summer. The Skyline Auxiliary is appreciative of her support over the years and is pleased that her generosity has come back to her.

        Marjorie Carter at Downtown Pawn in Mt. Grove was pleasantly surprised to learn that she had won the drawing for the ornate garden bench and the cast stone fire pit at the Skyline VFD Auxiliary Chili Supper last Saturday.  It was delivered to her Wednesday afternoon and she and her sister, Linda Keys, took a moment to have their picture taken on the sunny sidewalk.  Ms. Carter has been a loyal supporter of the Skyline VFD for years and it is nice to see her generosity coming back to her.  She was not present for the win, but she won anyway.  Champion!

        Tim and Jean Scrivner were at the chili supper.  Tim contributed another of his remarkable bird feeders to the silent auction.  Jean said that her brother, Charlie Burlile, up in Boston has had some adventures during the long, cold winter.  The forecast ahead for them this week is highs in the 40s and lows in the 20s.  They will have snow on the ground for a while yet.  Around here, the mud has begun to settle in most places and hardly anyone is complaining.  Soon it will be time for Cowboy Jack’s annual dampening.  A voice piped up from the round table last Wednesday to say he almost drowned a good horse the last time.  The round table is where the prevaricators sit.  They cannot be backed into a corner that way.  Fortunately Almartha’s bard was out on the porch (supposedly helping to load the heavy fire pit into the truck, but mostly just creating confusion)  when he finally let his misogynism all the way out with a snide remark about women drivers.  One of the ways these radicals go about instigating trouble is to push and push until the forbearance of the maligned wears thin and she retorts, “Aw, shut up.”  Then he chuckles and grins real big, “You’ve been wanting to say that for a long time, haven’t you?”  He won.  His sister seems to be trouncing him regularly at Scrabble, so he goes off to the next county to cause trouble.  His friends are still glad to see him coming, Bob and Ethel among them.  They reported having seen quite a few deer the other day, a couple of big bunches.  They are still enjoying the eagles up at the headwaters of Fox Creek.  The other day Bob said if he lived closer he would come to Champion every day.

        J.C. Owsley is a great fan of Champion.  He posted some pictures recently of some still standing, but abandoned looking buildings and said, “This is a community in my home area that I remember from childhood as resembling Champion.  Jordan is situated on the banks of Starks Creek instead of Fox.  The store and post office closed over sixty years ago.  The people went away, and the community died.  I love The Champion News because it brings back memories from long ago in my own world.  This area of Hickory County is the setting of a book titled ‘The Walking Preacher of the Ozarks.’  Reading the news from Champion is a highlight of my week.  Thank you.”  It is good to know that www.championnews.us reaches everywhere the internet goes, even to Texas.  Rebecca Heston writes from there in response to Eulalia Jasmin’s OP ED piece last week.  She says, “I do believe Ms. Jasmin has offered some of the best advice I have heard in a very long time.  In today’s age, many laugh at manners and at that which is expected in polite society.  But I think it would help us to remember that polite society is that which brought us away from the tribalism that permeated the societies of our ancestry and allowed us to live communally in cities and villages.  I appreciate the reminder as well as the tips on how to survive those who persist in sharing more than we’d like to hear.  Thanks for sharing her thoughts.”  We do seem to be bombarded with too much partisan information—too much political bullying.  It might be time to turn off the TV and computer and go out for a walk, and as our Hunter Creek friend says, “Now get up and go enjoy the beautiful outdoors!”

        Sunday the 15th was Mother’s Day in the United Kingdom.  It is lovely to be remembered.  That day is one Carol and Chris Tharp remember—their 40th wedding anniversary.  Mrs. Helen Batten had her birthday on the 16th.  She is the first smiling face people see when they go to through the door of the Skyline School.  In addition to being St. Patrick’s Day, the 17th is another wedding anniversary—forty-six years for Linda and Bob Hetherington over in Norwood.  Linda has her Cole crops ready up at The Plant Place.  Her almanac says that the 18th and 19th will be good days for planting root crops.  Where it is not too wet to plow, some Champions are getting ready to get their potatoes in the ground.  Myla Sarginson is in the third grade at Skyline.  She has her birthday on the 18th.  She has to get up a little earlier to get to school these days, but young people adapt quickly to change.  When told the reason for daylight savings time the Old Indian said, “Only the government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket.”  Spring Break is happening for many schools around the country.  It happens that South Padre Island has been experiencing 50 degree drizzle and high winds for several days and all those high rise condominiums on the beach are full of college students who would like to be playing out on the sunny sand.  They should have just stayed home or gone to visit the old folks.  “Hey, Grandad, can I give you a hand with that?”  “Grannie, I would be pleased to wash some windows for you if that is what you need doing.”

        Bluebirds and robins and geese flying north all tell us Spring is near.  Come down to the wide, wild and wooly banks of Old Fox Creek and share your ideas about what makes you know it is Spring.  Remember that song from “State Fair?”  “I’m as busy as a spider spinning daydreams; I’m as giddy as a baby on a swing.  I haven’t seen a crocus or a rosebud or a robin on the wing.  But I feel so gay, in a melancholy way, that it might as well be spring.  It might as well be spring” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!