March 28, 2024

CHAMPION—March 18, 2024



St. Patrick’s Day was a good day to pick a spring bouquet and a good day to remember that we all came from somewhere. Whenever and however we or our ancestors arrived here, we are grateful for the beauty of the land, for its rich history, for our good neighbors, our comfort and security, and for our capacity to recognize the wonder we find in our ordinary lives in Champion. Monday morning finds fire in the woodstove again as the thermometer finally creeps up above freezing. A good stiff breeze reminds us that spring’s arrival on Tuesday has not much to do with anything other than the calendar. How many hard freezes will we have before May 10th?

Verses in the old hymn “Whispering Hope” refer to the beauty of the world and the peace in our hearts after the storm is over. Photographs of the golden light in the hour after Thursday’s storm filled the internet even as limbs and forest debris littered our lovely country lanes. Ten tenacious musicians made it to the Vanzant Jam with that many in the music appreciation section—undaunted and grateful for the fellowship and for the music. Grateful too were all of us who were spared the destruction, heartbreak, and aggravation that many up and down the road from Arkansas to St. Louis and beyond endured in the wake of that storm. We picked the sticks and limbs up out of the yard, got the lawnmowers ready for the season, and began the annual gripe about having to pick ticks out of our longhandles. Overall, as we look at the strife and suffering of much of the rest of the world, we count our many blessings.

Gardeners are busy. Felix the Farmer writes that in his garden he is growing sunflowers. Again, this year many will be planting sunflowers as an homage to Ukraine and the desperate struggle going on there. The seed packet of some planted on St. Patrick’s Day indicates they will bloom in 75 days. That will be May 31st. Hopes are some peace will bloom out before then—there in Ukraine and in many places in the world. Meanwhile, an old Champion gardener is planning a trip to Sue’s Greenhouse up north of Norwood. Champions who have made that trip already have lovely things to say about the experience. They say to allot plenty of time because there is so much to see and the air smells so good and the people are so pleasant. Closer to home, the Skyline Second Saturday Farmers Market will start up on the morning of April 13th. It is being called a ‘swap meet’ too. There is no set-up fee, so who knows what all will be available out on the parking lot of the Brushy Knob Church. It will be a chance to check out the construction of the new firehouse at the Skyline VFD across the road.

Skyline School students are out on spring break this week. They might be sleeping late or visiting grandparents or going on trips to the aquarium or some other interesting place. Some might be enjoying taking care of their horses and getting ready for the spring trial ride out of Champion on May 15th. Bud Hutchison’s Memorial Trail Ride is one of the highpoints of the season. Even people who have never set a horse enjoy seeing all the beautiful animals and hearing the tales from the trail. Andrew Hardin heads up the ride in memory of his friend Bud. He said the date for the fall trail ride has been set for October 9th. Caleb and his sisters are likely to be on their horses during their spring break. On their break, Teagan and Luxe were down from Rogersville visiting the old family stomping grounds and their Champion cousin Chase. They are the latest of many generations of their families visiting around the ancient wood stove with other area ancients. On the wide wooly banks of Old Fox Creek, at the bottom of several hills, at end of the pavement, where country roads start their winding, find Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


March 20, 2024

CHAMPION—March 11, 2024



A visiting young man helped an old guy cut down a poplar tree that was threatening the house. The old woman wanted a tall stump upon which she planned to sit a flowerpot. It was done. Rocks and flowerpots have topped the stump over the years. Its bark has finally fallen leaving a smooth surface for a dainty female downy woodpecker to peck away. Eventually she has pecked a nice round hole. A tiny chickadee has claimed it for her own and spent the day cleaning house. Trip after trip with a few wood chips she flits up to the red bud tree and lets them fly. People without a dog find entertainment. Also, back to the visiting young man and the old guy. Sometimes old folks feel bad about having to ask for help. They need to remember being a young person who had the privilege of helping someone they venerated and how good it made them feel. Ask for it if you need it. Help if you can. Check in with your favorite old folks.

Retired nurse and crochet artist extraordinaire, Kay Dennis, has just had a birthday. Flaco Jimenez, accordionist with the Texas Tornados, celebrates his 85th birthday on the 11th. On the 23rd, The General’s fair daughter, Elva Upshaw, will share her birthday with a couple of Dons—Don Bishop and Don Powell. Champion’s good neighbor Judie Pennington will celebrate that day with some of her hometown friends. We remember Champion Troy Powell who was born March 26, 1926, and passed away on his birthday in 2001. He loved gospel music and had a wonderful smile. The 27th is for Jocelyn Downs, Skyline R2 School’s language arts and social studies teacher, and for second grader Aliyiea Trujillo. Eighth grader Braxton Mayberry has the 29th for his big day. Fifth grader Tucker Johnson shares his birthday on the 30th with his fifth grade teacher Mrs. Melissa Willhite. Your Champion friends hope all your days are happy ones.

Skyline’s spring break starts on Saturday the 16th and will go all the way through Sunday the 24th. School resumes on the 25th, meanwhile all those students and staff can enjoy some good gardening days. Seed catalogues and warm days have made it exciting. The almanac says the 24th thru the 26th will be fine for sowing grains, hay, and forage crops. It says to plant flowers. The last two days will be good for root crops, but some folks will wait until the 27th or 28th to get their potatoes and beets in the ground. Weather conditions will have something to do with what they are actually able to get done. A hard freeze next week may but the kibosh on their plans. May 10th is considered the last day for a freeze in this area. The lilacs are leafing out. Maybe there will be some beautiful blooms. Some old Champions have wider walkways in their garden and smaller beds for growing things, but they persist. Farmer’s markets will soon be up and running. There will be one at Skyline starting on the 13th of April!

A charming gentleman from Cabool joined the circle at the Vanzant Jam on Thursday. He said he is rusty, that he has not been to a jam in ten years. He borrowed a bass guitar from David Richardson and shared a couple of songs. He did not sound very rusty. Art says he is more country music than bluegrass, but he enjoyed his evening and thinks he will come back again. His new friends hope so. They enjoyed a good conversation about the health benefits of music, listening to it and making it. We associate certain songs with certain people. How often does a song remind you of someone you love or someone you love remind you of a song? It happens often in Champion. Looking on the Bright Side!


March 18, 2024

CHAMPION—March 4, 2024



Someone said March 4th was John Phillip Sousa’s birthday. It was really November 6, 1854, but “March forth” was a cute joke as we are now all thinking about “Stars and Stripes Forever.” “Be kind to your web footed friends, for a duck may be somebody’s mother.” Kindness cannot be overemphasized, particularly in these contentious political times.

Spring forward? Yes! Sunday, March 10th at 2:00 am clocks are to be turned forward 1 hour. Sunrise and sunset will be about an hour later. (We can just move the clocks forward before we go to bed and not have to get up in the middle of the night.) Skyline first grader C.J. Castillo can sleep a little longer on his birthday the 11th. On the 12th we remember two interesting, talented men. Geoff Metroplos was a great builder and gardener and jack of many trades. J.R. Johnston played the banjo and loved all the old songs. He passed his love of music on, and it goes on and on because of Herbie. The 13th is the birthday celebration of Trinity Castillo, a fourth grade student at Skyline. The 15th, known as the Ides of March, is that ominous day when Julius Caesar met his doom, some while back in 44 BC. More recently three sterling individuals, Sam Sonite, Ursula Donnely, and Jacob Moffett, have claimed the day for their birthday celebrations. The 16th is for third grader Lillith Jeffery and for Elizabeth Mastrangelo Brown who was 23 in 2013. Skyline’s Jennifer Trujillo will enjoy the 17th. Your Champion friends wish you happy days all.

Spring arrives March 19th. The Lady Bugs are already here. Good neighbor Judie up on Tar Button Road found her first tick on February 28. The pesky pests should at least wait until spring is actually here. She said she had read about Sue’s Greenhouse here in The Champion News but had never been there. Last week when she had a friend from Little Rock visiting, they decided to check it out. She was much impressed with the enormous greenhouses, the great variety of plants and the friendly, helpful staff. She bought her seed potatoes, her ‘hens and chicks’ to replace ones from her mother that she had lost, and several Coleus. She plans return trips. Gardeners who plant by the signs will take advantage of the 8th and 9th for planting and transplanting. The 12th and 13th will be good planting days for above ground crops. “Oh! The night was dark and stormy. The air was full of sleet. The old man stepped out in the yard and his shoes were full of feet. Oh! It ain’t a gonna rain no more, no more
” The lake at Wolf Pen Hollow has gone bone dry. Forecasts seem fickle these dry days. Mushroom hunters are hopeful for some sprinkles to spark the spores. Frying pans await.

People in the Skyline area have something exciting to anticipate. Starting on April 13th there will be a Second Saturday Skyline Swap Meet/Farmers’ Market to be held in the parking lot of the Brushyknob Church just across the road from the Skyline School at the intersection of Highway C and 76. Helen Batten told us about it. She said it will be for small animals, baked goods, garden produce, jelly, eggs, just about anything. There will be no set up fee. Bring your own tables, tailgates or whatever from 8 to noon, the second Saturday of every month. It will be a chance to meet up with your neighbors and find some good stuff and get rid of some good stuff. While you are there you can check out the progress on the new firehouse construction for the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department.

Out along Cold Springs Road, way out in the middle of a big field on the west side of the road, finally sprouted the tiny clump of daffodils all by themselves. They found their way there in a flood several years ago. We may have another flood someday. We might have to take the long way around or maybe just have to stay home, but for now we hope for puddles and are being vigilant to fire danger in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!