CHAMPION—June 23, 2014

        Addressing that age old musical question, “How in the world do the old folks know that it ain’t a gonna rain no more?”  It turns out that they do not know.  Had they known, they would have cut their hay last Monday and would have had it bailed and strung out in neat rows along the edge of the field before the showers started again on Friday.  As it happened, they waited for the predicted rain that did not come until they were peeved — A week wasted—Alas!  But it was not so for all as some gleefully abandoned their gardening/farming responsibilities to frolic with the seldom seen children and grandchildren visiting from afar.  There was blueberry picking, pie and jam making, sewing machine lessons, fire fly catching, pizza dough making, trips to the swimming hole, lots of music making, long walks and the much anticipated trip to the wonderful Champion Store.  The week went by in a blur leaving some old Champions exhausted and happy and looking forward to next summer.

        There was speculation that Larry Casey might not have been able to attend the benefit arranged for him by his family over at the Vanzant Community Building Saturday, but he made it and enjoyed getting to see everyone who came out to lend a hand.  The success of the event speaks to the kind of community that steps up to help when help is called for and so Larry’s medical care will be subsidized for a while and he and his family are grateful.

        Gratitude is being spread around on the internet.  Doni Coonts says that the hard work of Carolyn, Scott, and Justin Whillhite, John Homer, and Roy and Terri Ryan has made the Skyline greenhouse possible.  The project is almost completed so that students will be able to enjoy first hand experiences with growing plants.  Their progress will be followed with interest.  Meanwhile, Abby Homer is volunteering her creative talents with her paint brush to give the school’s hallway a new look.  It will be a surprise for returning students.  Skyline student Alyssa Strong was born June 23, 2003, so she is now eleven years old.  She will be in the 6th grade at Skyline this year.  Lloyd Perryman Jr. is a prekindergarten fellow.  His birthday is June 30th and he will be 4 years old.  Birthday celebrations are a good way to spend some summertime.  Esther Wrinkles Birthday was June 28th.  Eva Powell’s is the 29th and that is also the birthday of KZ88 Radio personality, Butch Kara.  Champion granddaughters, Faith Ann Lansdown and Sierra Parson share the 21st as their birthday.  Faith Ann turned 12 years old and Sierra became an amazing 17.  It goes by so quickly.  Just ask those grandparents.

        The Summer Solstice—the longest day of the year—was a brilliant day for a family reunion.  The 40th Back to the Land Reunion was held at the Hammond Mill Camp over near Dora.  Back in the 1970’s the Ozarks had an influx of “Urban Refugees.”  They were primarily young people, college graduates and drop-outs and hippies of all descriptions pouring out of the cities, looking for a wholesome life in the country to raise their families and to “live off the land.”  They bought farms and raw land and set about to garden organically, to build their own houses, to home-school the children who had been born at home with midwives.  They played a lot of rock and roll music, and had big parties and swap meets.  They ate brown rice and made yogurt.  They were idealists, transcendentalists, environmental activists, and young, often unskilled and generally naive.  Some did not succeed.  Building a house together can be hard on a relationship and more than one ‘blanket was split’ before the roof made it on the cabin.  Many lived in old school buses and tents and shacks they cobbled together.  Local folks shook their heads and made a lot of jokes at their expense, but many like the Champion Hensons, Hutchisons, Hicks, Brixeys, Kriders and Smiths and others also extended a helping hand and were willing to share their life experiences and know-how.  Many of their own children had moved off by that time, as jobs in the Ozarks were few and far between, so they were pleased to see some young people move into the area who seemed genuinely interested in the old ways of doing things.  Some of the immigrants had the hope of merging social and environmental consciousness with the solid skillsets of the people who had been living here for generations.  Forty years later, some of the new-comers who stayed on look just like the old timers to the newer newcomers.  They have contributed to the local culture.  Many are back in the city again and are dispersed from coast to coast, but they all feel that their time in the Ozarks enriched their lives.  Saturday saw about 140 of the Back to the Landers together again at the Old Tree Huggers Jamboree.  They did not all know each other back in the day, and there were new spouses, children and grandchildren in the mix at the big gathering.  Name tags helped keep the embarrassment down as features have aged and memories have slipped, but they all remembered the band, Hot Mulch, playing “Well, I’m moving to the country where everything is fine.  Gonna live in a dome and drink dandelion wine.  When the collapse comes I won’t get the blues.  I’ll have all the back issues of the Mother Earth News.”  The name of that original song is “Ozark Mountain Mother Earth News Freak.”

        Thursday and Friday will be good days for planting above ground crops according to Linda’s Almanac from over at The Plant Place in Norwood.  It is easy to get called away to the creek on these beautiful summer days when the afternoons heat up.  Early mornings and late afternoons are the best times to be out in the garden for older folks anyway.  The creek can reduce a person’s core temperature substantially.  Lee Ray says that at 75 miles per gallon (on his motorcycle) a person just cannot afford to stay home.  Add the savings of not having to run the air conditioner when he is not there and it can be figured that he is almost making money by making frequent trips to the wild wooly banks of Old Fox Creek.  He spends so much time on the wide inviting veranda at the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square that it is a wonder he did not see the low-down sneak-thief vandals that meticulously unbolted the city limits sign on the west side of town and made off with it.  This is not the first time it has happened and since the grass has grown up pretty tall around the sign post, there is every chance that the delinquent criminal trespassers got their britches full of chiggers.  The last time the crime was attributed to jealous marauders from up Spotted Hog way, a community of about the same size but without a sign of their own.  It could be anyone though from anywhere in the world.  After all, everyone wants to be a Champion!—Looking on the Bright Side!