Last week mud was the topic of conversation around the tables in the meeting room at the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion. Epic tales of being rescued from mud, sinking in mud and other dirty stories brought out the laughter. Bob said Ethel has good mud boots. She is the opener and closer of gates, allowing them to feed and tend their cattle. She is indispensable. This week the discussion will be about the wind. “They Call the Wind Maria.” There were a great number of things “Blowing in the Wind.” The stories that will breeze in this Wednesday will be “Wild as the Wind” and will all be accompanied by gusts of gratitude. The whole country is subject to weather related difficulties. Living out on the surface of the Earth makes us vulnerable no matter what we look like, how much money we have, how we worship, or what our political affiliations and world view may be. Terri Ryan, Skyline’s officer of positivity, has introduced us to Amy Weatherly who said that some people could be given an entire field of roses and only see the thorns in it. Others could be given a single weed and only see the wildflower in it. Perception is a key component to gratitude. And gratitude, according to Ms. Weatherly, is a key component to joy.

Joy will be happening at the Vanzant Jam Thursday. The happy birthday song for Ruth Fish Collins, who celebrated on February 24th, and for Dennis Shumate, who will have his big day on March 3rd, will be led by The General himself. It is sure to be a hit. Skyline prekindergarten student, RyAnne Harvey and Mrs. Barker also celebrate that day. Norwood’s Linda Hetherington, who operated The Plant Place there for many years, shares her birthday on the 5th with the lovely Krenna Long who lives north of that fair city. Skyline fifth grader, Rylee Sartor, will celebrate on the 6th. Birthdays are not a big deal to some people, but they are to others. You celebrants are big deals to your friends and families, so have happy days. March 2nd is the birth anniversary of Dr. Seuss. He was born in 1904. He passed away in 1991, but he left us with sixty books and lots of fun and good advice in “Oh! the Places You Will Go!”

Helen Batten writes from Skyline that the school plans to host a forum on March 19th at 6:30 to talk to school board candidates. “We have sent a letter out to invite them and they plan to attend. Deborah Barker will moderate the event and Terri Ryan will be timer. We will have a prepared list of questions and each candidate will be able to speak. The community is invited to bring written questions if possible. There will be high school students available to watch a movie with the younger children. PTO is providing coffee, water and cookies.”

Another exciting archery tournament is scheduled for Saturday, March 2nd at Skyline School. These events are held in the gym, so the cold weather expected should not cause a problem as long as roads are clear and it is safe to travel. Students from all around the area will participate in the competition. The whole community is welcome to observe quietly from the bleachers. The eighth grade class will operate a concession stand, the proceeds of which will help them on their way to their class trip in the spring. Meanwhile, enjoy these talented young people as they hone their skills on Saturday.

Robins strut around a Champion yard like they own the place. We know they are harbingers of Spring and that it is due to arrive on March 20th. Gardeners are getting busy with plans—what to plant, how much and where. They will wait for the manure hauling until the mud subsides. In the interim they have time to wonder if it is true that the Missouri Senate can really reverse a decision made by voters in November when they overwhelmingly approved a Constitutional amendment known as “Clean Missouri” with more than sixty per cent of the vote. Senate Bill 132 starts the undoing of the provisions for change that the voters called for. Why bother voting? That is a question that may come up again. Someone recently said that we have been cautioned so often about not discussing religion and politics that we have forgotten how to have a civil conversation about religion and politics. Try it if you like, or talk about the mud, the wind, the garden, your grandchildren or your favorite song. Bloody Mary sang a good one to American lieutenant Joe Cable back in 1949, but some like Ella Fitzgerald’s version better: “Happy talk, keep talking happy talk. Talk about things you like to do. You’ve gotta have a dream, if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!