February 25, 2021

CHAMPION—February 22, 2021



Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious pre-spring by the appearance of Wilbur the Champion Groundhog, awake from his long nap and strolling about the grounds reacquainting himself with the compost pile, his favorite Osage Orange tree and the derelict chicken house. Perhaps he will be more amenable to Jonnie the Friendly Dog than he was last year, when he rudely shunned every friendly overture. Exclusion is one of the saddest forms of bullying. Yet, he is just being himself, adhering to long established Rodent Rules and Jonnie will continue seeking friendship and acceptance because she is affectionate by nature.

Again, Champions are appreciative of the efforts of all the road crews for getting roads cleared so well so soon after such a winter blast. While snow still lingered on fields and hill sides, topography revealed itself and gave us a new view of our neighborhood. We live in a beautiful part of the world enhanced by seasonal changes. Mud is on the way. Some spots of some roads can transition snow into a particular axle sucking mud with slick slivering sliding attributes to rival solid ice. Proceed with caution and the possibility that you may be in a position to pull someone out of a mud hole, or be pulled out yourself. Neighbor helping neighbor is a Champion concept.

Jim and Donna Dewitt will enjoy a scenic trip to Ava on Saturday to get their second vaccinations. They will be glad to feel more at ease getting together with family and friends. Hugging grandchildren will be a gift for many twice vaccinated old folks. Elisabeth answered the phone at the Douglas County Health Department on Monday to reassure the community that the mass vaccination clinic will indeed happen again on Saturday the 27th. She was pleased to accept the compliments on the well-ordered efficiency of the last episode on behalf of the DCHD, local health care providers, fire departments, and the National Guard. Good things happen with people working together.

Some family and friends are struggling these days. Some, after years of distress, have finally stopped thinking about turning the American flag upside down, and others have now actually done it, an alarming and sad sight. If hatred, anger, fear and vitriol could run a power grid, lights would be blazing from here to yonder, no matter who might be in charge. Still, all the stories of neighbors helping neighbors during these difficult times lift our spirits and help us feel less stressed about our various differences. We are all in this together. Recovery will be a long ongoing process for many in Texas and other parts of the country where buildings and infrastructure were no match for the brutal weather. We are mindful of their difficulties and are feeling blessed to be here in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


February 18, 2021

CHAMPION—February 14, 2021


Nitrogen is being fixed.

Champions appreciate the MODOT workers and our Douglas County Road crews and others who have to be out in the weather doing essential things to keep us safe. Thank you.

A little ice, then a little melt, then a little refreeze, then a little snow, then more and more snow: it piles up and made us feel good on Valentine’s Day (and for many days ahead) to be marooned with someone we love. People who live near the pavement may not be so isolated, but they still appreciated the opportunity to be sentimental, if not romantic. All the wise weather people say to stay home if you can–so cuddle up. Of course, we have work that needs doing and basic survival chores to keep us busy. We have absurd politics to keep us annoyed, but we also have hope for the future just because there is no future in being hopeless. Have some fun in the snow if you can.

Old time lore says that if it is raining when the sun is shining, that is a sign the devil is beating his wife. (A feminist says the devil is beating her husband.) There does not seem to be local lore about when it is snowing in the sunshine. That was the situation in Champion for a while on Monday afternoon, with the wind whipping wisps off shed roofs and limbs, the whole bright world was a sparkling flurry.

Cardinal Show-Off

Susan Perry posts pictures of dozens of red cardinals at her bird feeders in the snow. Photographer Lanny Thompson of Maumelle, Arkansas shared a phenomenal photo of a cardinal in flight. He called it Cardinal Show-Off. It is picturesque out there now yet only 34 days until Spring. One Old Champion planted tomato seeds, parsley and basil on Valentine’s Day, not caring if the signs were right, just longing for a time of green growing things. In a few weeks she will be transplanting and wondering why she planted so much. The up side of the heavy snow, apart from the spectacular beauty of it, is that it ‘fixes’ nitrogen in the garden.

A new friend writes that if there are no gardeners there are no gardens. New friends are a blessing and so are old ones, or, more politely, ‘long time’ friends. Phone calls with Skip and Ina over in Dora, with Jeff and Candi in the National Forest, with Cathy Odneal and Frances Banks revealed that they are all well and safe. Through the grapevine, we know The General and The Gypsy are fine. The Acting Mayor posts: “IMMEDIATE PRIORITY FLASH ALERT: The Vanzant Chamber of Commerce has voted in favor to cancel this weeks, 18 Feb 2021, Thursday night community center entertainment by a two percent margin (51% heck yeou, 49% h… nay. Now, this decision may be reversed when mail in votes are received and counted next week. We will post updates ASAP. The (less than sober) local storm team weather person was unable to give an accurate reason for this cancellation in that it wasn’t safe to climb the Vanzant three foot weather tower because snow is covering the bottom rung.” The final tally after all the absentee and mail in ballots from the scattered living musicians (Sue Murphy declared no more than three votes per individual) and the host of Dearly Departed from Cemeteries in Vanzant, Denlow, New Hope and others amounted to 821 ‘yes’ and 32 ‘no.’

The proprietor of the Historic Emporium in Downtown Champion says that business has been brisk, particularly the propane business. Neighbors and friends call to be sure that she has a safe commute to and from work. Call your friends and family to verify they are fine and try this exercise: While sitting in a chair, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles. Now, while doing this, draw the number ‘6’ in the air with your right hand. Your foot will change directions. The weather will change directions too. That is our hope here in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

A crow in the snow.

February 12, 2021

CHAMPION—February 8, 2021



A flicker joined robins filling Champion yards on Monday morning reminding us that spring will be here before long. Seed catalogues choke mail boxes and especially cold unpleasant days make those colorful pages a haven for summer garden dreams. Louise H. liked the Parks Whopper. Linda H. goes for Delicious. John W. likes both of those and Early Girl. Felix the Farmer likes Amy’s and all the varieties that his Old Papa likes. So, let the stove burn down a little so you can haul the ashes. Bring in another armload of firewood. Make a cup of hot chocolate and settle in for garden daydreaming that will go all the way past tomatoes to peppers, squash, beans and cucumbers. Over in the United Kingdom they often call a vegetable garden ‘an allotment.’ Johnny and the Raindrops sang a song about his Granddad who used to have an allotment and it meant so much to him. On these cold days inside remembering being in the garden with Granddad warms the heart.

Neighbors met on the country road by chance and enjoyed the chance to visit. They reported that their children and families are all safe and well and grateful. They talked about getting their taxes done and the phenomena that it seems to take longer to go someplace than it does to come home. That is particularly true of going to the creek in the summer. They talked about the increased local traffic. In the old days, before the turn of the century, the milk truck and the mail-man were often the only vehicles going by. Things change. Robert Frost said, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

Jim and Donna DeWitt were in Ava on Saturday getting their vaccinations and feeling lucky about it. They have Champion connections. Jim once bought quilts from Esther Wrinkles as a gift for Donna. He had a funny way to present them to her that had her hiding under the table. There must be more to that story, but hearing loss combined with mask-muffled speech complicated the understanding. They asked to be remembered to Alvin and Beverly Barnhart. They were school mates in Mountain Grove a while back. They had read that Beverly had a hard recovery from the virus and that she is encouraging people to wear masks and to vaccinate when they can. That is good advice from a friend. The DeWitts were impressed with the efficiency of the Douglas County Health Department’s handling of the vaccination event. By the end of the day, it was reported that more than 1200 people had received the vaccine—a good start.

The Douglas County Community Foundation has awarded a grant to our Skyline R-II School for new basketball goals and backboards for the gym. It is a gift to live in an area that supports our vital little rural school where our youngsters learn the value of good sportsmanship. As the Tampa Bay team is the winner in the Super Bowl, dashing the hopes of our Kansas City Chiefs, we are given the opportunity to exhibit grace and good humor. Patrick Mahomes was genuine in congratulating Tom Brady on his victory, though it was the worst loss of the young quarterback’s career going all the way back through his college years. That generosity of spirit in the face of defeat is an example that could well serve people in other walks of life these days. Congratulations you Bucks! You earned your victory, but in our hearts the Chiefs are still our Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!


February 4, 2021

CHAMPION—February 1, 2021



Jerry Wagner

We turn a calendar page thinking of the Sunday song, “Oh! I’m dreaming of an uncloudy day!” Champions would welcome clouds to prevent the groundhog from seeing his shadow, if groundhog lore were science. Phil probably enjoyed a couple of feet of fresh snow up there in Punxsutawney on Tuesday, but in these parts, just another beautiful day. Lonnie Krider said his Dad, Oscar, said, “There’ll come a day in February when a dog looks for the shade.” Ruby Proctor passed away in 2014, at the age of 88. She once said that when she was a kid in Champion there would be snow on the ground from Thanksgiving to Easter. The 1930s were rough all over, but Champions endured. They were all in the same boat, so like them and the good Scots sailors, and Chief George, we will endeavor to persevere.’

The friendly fiddler, Mr. Wagner, says, “Well, I wonder how the old folks are at home. I wonder if they miss me when I’m gone. I wonder if they pray for the boy who went away and left his dear old parents all alone.” If you’re wondering about your old folks, call them up. You may find that they, like Jerry, are breakfasting on bacon and eggs, biscuits and baked apples. He is a lucky man. He will tell you so, and if he doesn’t, Lena will.

Folks who have been mostly home bound this last year are reminded that the caterpillar grows wings during a season of isolation. That is a butterfly metaphor for making the best of a situation. The Old Champion Granny mixes her sports metaphors to say, “Floats like a butterfly–stings like a bee that’s how Mahomes handles Bra-dee.” She may have gone off the deep end getting ready for the Super Bowl. The creeks are up, so take care not to go off the deep end in the fast flowing low-water crossings as you head down to the wide, wild wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek to turn pages as Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!