CHAMPION—March 2, 2015

        Those nature lovers who are excited about the sight of a full moon on a clean white snow will have this week to revel.  After that Ron Hurst has said Thursday will be the last day of hard winter.  Esther Wrinkles said, “Thunder in February, frost in May!”  That may be misremembered and might really be “for every time it thunders in February it will frost in May.”  A check in with Irene Dooms verifies that memory served correctly this time.  She did not remember the ‘every time’ part either.  She is looking forward to the weather breaking and being able to get out and about more.  Her Champion friends are looking forward to seeing her in the neighborhood again soon.  Terry Ryan’s husband saw a flock of geese flying south on Sunday.  Terry says she does not think that is a good sign.  Whatever the signs and whatever happens, stalwart Champions are up for it.  Spring is on its way.

        Brenda Coffman Massey wrote a thank you on facebook for all those who were able to come out to the Vanzant Community Building in the bad weather last Saturday night to the benefit pie supper for Beverly Emory.  Bev kept Esther’s elaborate hair-do looking perfect for years and kept the place sunny with her own sweet smile.  Steve Moody furnished smoked meat for the dinner and JD Shannon, Dennis Lynch, Debbi and Joe Shannon, Debbie Stone, and others were thanked for doing all the hard work of organizing the evening.  Whetstone provided the entertainment.  It is great to know that the neighborhood will step up to help a friend and neighbor.  Steve Moody is a good neighbor.  He will be doing the Master of Ceremonies work at the Skyline VFD Auxiliary Chili Supper this Saturday.  Whetstone will be playing there too, along with Backyard Bluegrass and Lead Hill Players.  The roads ought to be good enough and whether or not there is snow on the ground or mud, the yearning for a good get together will have the community ready to venture out for some real fun and the chance to see old friends, meet new ones and support the great volunteer fire department that serves the area so well.  All the proceeds from the chili supper go to buy fire-fighting equipment and training for those wonderful volunteers.  Local kitchens will be warming up on the last really cold days of the winter as pies of all kinds are being baked to help the cause–pumpkin, peach, apple, strawberry/blueberry and lemon meringue—just to name a few.  Maybe someone will use Esther’s coconut cream pie recipe this year and have us all remembering her dedication to the fire department from its very beginning.  Then, of course, the blackberry cobblers will be the favorite temptation for dieters abandoning their resolve for one glorious evening.

        Regular Wednesday visitors to Champion start showing up in the late morning and the Meeting Room at the Historic Emporium fills up with history, tall tales, jokes, speculations, conjectures and observations.  Ethel Leach has been watching bald eagles.  There is a mated pair that lives up her way and she gets to see them often.  She and Bob had lost a calf not long ago and found a golden eagle at the carcass.  They are enormous birds.  Ethel said the golden eagle chased a bald eagle away from carrion.  People with livestock have no choice but to be out in the elements tending their flocks and herds.  Farmers have chosen a hard way to make a living.  Gardeners who just sit inside watching their plot through the window as the snow ‘fixes’ nitrogen for them understand hard work, but the relentlessness of exertion required of a dairy farmer is something milk drinkers everywhere should appreciate.  When you wipe that white mustache off your upper lip you can thank a Champion dairy farmer.  Irene reminds us that your newspaper is in your mail box because a mail carrier put it there—another occupation known for its unremitting ceaselessness.  Champions all!  A friend over on Hunter Creek says, “Now get up and go enjoy the beautiful outdoors!”  Some will linger by the fire for a while first, but will get out by and by, if just to go get the mail.

        “A life is like a garden.  Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.”  That was a reflection of Leonard Nimoy before he passed away recently.  Back before he was Mr. Spock he was frequently on Bonanza, Gun Smoke, Wagon Train, The Virginian, and Rawhide, as well as in a number of ‘cowboy’ movies.  He shared the screens with many legends and in the process of make-believe they propagated what is considered to be a wholesome set of standards for living–among them honor, compassion, and justice.  Many who have grown up watching television may have these stories confused in their minds with history.  There is currently a movement in Oklahoma and Texas and probably other places, to cease teaching ‘advanced placement’ history in the public schools because it may paint an unflattering picture of our past.  A friend said, “Just because you like what you hear does not mean it is the truth.”  We honor our forbearers by teaching all of U.S. history, even the parts that might be uncomfortable, unflattering, shameful and unpatriotic.  The knowledge will help us be better people and better citizens of the world.  America has been at war for 222 out of the 239 years since 1776.  It looks like there is plenty yet to learn.

        Among good citizens count Barbara Deegan.  She founded the Ozark String Project back in 2007 and now has over 40 students.  They are being trained to read music and to play by ear in the local tradition of fiddling.  Learn more about the Ozark String Project at their concert on Sunday the 8th at the Performing Arts Center in Ava at 3 in the afternoon.  It will be a short program presented by teachers and a number of students who have auditioned for the opportunity to perform.  Barbara’s contact information is or 417-683-5450 extension 136.  The Arkansas Traveler, Soldiers’ Joy, Red Haired Boy, Down Yonder, Cherokee Shuffle, and Esther’s favorite, Orange Blossom Special, will be some of the hundreds of fiddle tunes that these young folks will likely be saving for posterity.  History via music is a Champion notion.

        Neighbors to the West of Ava have a granddaughter by the name of Bailey who lives way out in Portland, Oregon.  Bailey is having her birthday on the 9th of March.  So will broom-maker Kay Dennis, though she has probably started partying already.  Have fun.  The tenth belongs to Skyline first grade teacher, Mrs. Vivod.  First grade students are the definition of fun.  Mrs. Casper is Skyline’s music and art teacher.  She is responsible for all the great music programs where students dazzle the community while filling parents’ and grandparents’ hearts with overflowing joy and pride.  A good friend and neighbor, Geoff Metroplos, would be celebrating his birthday on the 12th.  His quick smile and good humor come to mind when his neighbors remember what a hard worker he was and how willing he always was to help when you needed it.  He would like this story told by an old Cherokee to his grandson.  “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all.  One is Evil.  It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego.  The other is Good.  It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth.”  The boy thought about it and asked, “Grandfather, which one wins?”  The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.”

Geoff feeds his curiosity from the east side of Fox Creek after a Champion gullywasher…

        Come down to the wild, wooly banks of Old Fox Creek and sit in on the conversation around the stove on Wednesday or any day.  Feed your hunger for knowledge, ice cream or candy bars, and while you are at it pick up some feed for your dog, your cat, or your calf.  If you need fencing staples, a new flush valve for your toilet, pie pans (for your chili supper contribution), or pizza you will have come to the right place.  If you have or need an optimistic world view and a happy heart, you will be welcome in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!