Jonnnie and the Armadillo meet at a Champion pond.”
Eight thirsty Champion bluebirds.

Information from the Missouri Department of Conservation website says that the nine banded armadillo is not considered to be an invasive species, just that its territory is expanding.  They say that freezing temperatures, ice and snow will be the barrier to their northern migration.  They are nocturnal and nomadic and destructive as they dig for earthworms, spiders and other invertebrates.  They are plentiful in the Champion exurbs—boldly out in the daylight defying the dog for a drink of water.  Any place that has open water these days is attractive to all kinds of wild life.  Some folks have great flocks of cardinals and finches and a few miles away cedar waxwings and bluebirds are the dominant birds.  There is something interesting going on outside every window.

An Old Champion out on the High Road the other evening met several vehicles at intervals of a minute or two.  By the fourth meeting the dust was roiling so as to fool the driver into thinking it was a thick fog.  The optimism for rain reigns in Champion hearts.  At Vanzant that evening, Skip asked if Fox Creek was up over the new bridge yet.  With the warming of the weather, it is expected that work will resume on the downstream side of the East Champion Fox Creek Bridge soon.  Meanwhile, according to General ‘sources,’ icicles were forming on feeders at the Vanzant Weather Tower and Bird Sanctuary late Sunday morning.  An off and on slow drizzle at 33 degrees made the afternoon dreary looking while it floated the bright hope of greener times ahead.  It is amazing how little rain it takes to green up a yard that has been parched.  The post in The Champion News ( for January 11, 2016 shows a picture taken from the south side of Clever Creek looking across to where Fox Creek Road and the High Road fork.  It was a wide rushing stream—wide and deep enough to make you pay attention driving through it.  Look at the photo of Fox Creek looking east from Champion on the January 4, 2016 post.  There are ten years of archives at that site and pictures to look through if you are far away and feeling nostalgic for the Bright Side.

Clever Creek, January 2016

Felix Maverick Osage Parsons arrived on January 6th, weighing in at 7.4 pounds and 20 inches tall.  Babies are generally measured as ‘long,’ but this fellow has a tall Papa and a tall Grandpa.  He’s liable to be called “Stretch” when he grows up or “Timber.”  Whatever they call him, the lad has arrived into a loving, welcoming family.  Congratulations to the whole bunch of you.  Bud Watkins is the maintenance man who looks after our wonderful little Skyline R2 School.  He also celebrated his birthday on the 6th.  The talented Travis Hathaway was 20 on January 7, 2017, so he must be a grown up now.  Folks who know him will smile at that.  It has been a nice year for Elizabeth Johnston Lawrence who married Roger this year.  Her birthday is on the 9th.  Phillip Moses will also celebrate that day over in Oklahoma with the lovely Paulette.  Tom Van Dyke has been an infrequent but welcome guest in Champion over the years.  He is newly married and hopes are that he and Leticia will visit this summer.  Meanwhile, they will celebrate his birthday on the 10th.  Wilburn Hutchison shares his birthday with Bob Liebert of Teeter Creek fame on January 11th.  When Wilburn was a boy, he and Fleming Gear saw a dirigible motor over the field they were working near where the school sits now.  Who among us can say he has seen a dirigible?  How many even know what that might be?  Teeter Creek is over west of the Trappist Abby Monastery.  You Facebook folks can look at the page called “Teeter Creek Herbs” and enjoy excellent photographs of morel mushrooms, garden spiders and many native plants.  With them Bob includes descriptions, habitat, history and uses of our treasured local flora.  We live in a truly lovely part of the world full of lovely people.  It was a delight to see Judy Stigall and Eileen Woods at the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam on Thursday.  The 13th was the birthday of our much missed banjo player and fine singer, Norris Woods.  He often played, “Life Is Like a Mountain Railway,” so the group played it for Eileen.  It missed Norris’s perfection, but let everyone remember him with that good feeling that comes from music.  John Garret (Snuffy) has his birthday on the 13th as well.  Rumor has it that he will be 75.  For many of us that does not sound nearly as old as it once did.

A space is set aside, in out of the weather, at the Re-creation of the Historic Emporium for relaxing with coffee and the newspaper or visiting with friends and neighbors.  The checker board is out for any who wish to test their skill against The General who needs practice if he is ever going to meet up with Sharon Sanders over at the Douglas County Museum for a play-off.  She is the reigning Douglas County Checker Champion and willing to take on all comers any Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. there at the museum in Ava.  The General used to be pretty good according to his stories.  Bring your stories, observations, wild claims and speculations down to the broad banks of Auld Fox Creek to share with your neighbors.  From the archives, a person asked about predictions for the coming year (2016) had such dire and cataclysmic expectations for just the next few months ahead that the inquirer abandoned the survey altogether.  The Granddaughter of an esteemed Champion of old, on the other end of the room sat in stunned disbelief, her eyes wide asking silently, “Is this for real?”  Certainly the world is big enough for widely divergent philosophies, but the breadth of the difference among people in such close proximity can be staggering.  Stagger on down to the wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek and see for yourself.  It is good to remember that in any given gathering there may well be people (polite people) who believe exactly opposite things and, in most cases, they are indistinguishable from each other by their looks.  For your own peace of mind, be sure you are registered to vote and participate in your democracy.  It is a sure bet that “they” do.  It is eleven more months and four more days until the midterm elections and plenty of time to study.  Bring an instrument with you some Wednesday to improve the music.  “We looked down the river and we see’d the British coming.  There must have been a hundred of them beatin’ on their drums.  They stepped so high and they made their bugles ring.  We stood beside our cotton bales and didn’t say a thing.”  That was in 1814.  In 2018 there will be plenty to be said in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion’s 2016 Christmas Flood