“Be like Bud.”  That is what Don Hamby said at Bud Hutchison’s send off on Friday at the Ava Highway Church of the Nazarene.  Hundreds gathered to pay tribute to a friend and neighbor and to comfort Wilma and their family.  Bud’s old saddle sat among the flowers as longtime friends spoke of the nature of true friendship that he exemplified.  To be like Bud is to have a smile on your face and a truly kind heart.  Way off in the future whenever the trail ride comes to Champion, it will still be called Bud Hutchison’s Spring (or Fall) Trail Ride.  He was called Champion’s greatest ambassador and he was.

Thunder in February means frost in May, they say.  We certainly had some thunder in February.  They also say that if it rains on Easter Sunday, it will rain the next seven Sundays.  So far that has proven out, though some of that rain came down as snow.  It rained all day on Earth Day, a pleasant beginning for Spring (1 ¾ inches in the Champion soup can).  J.C. Owsley says that by Tuesday we will be able to hear the grass growing.  We began celebrating Earth Day back in 1970.  Now 192 countries worldwide hold events to demonstrate support for environmental issues.  Here the EPA has supporters and detractors.  Scott Pruitt has spent the past year working to undo regulations that would have required farmers to restrict their fertilizer use, oil and gas firms to control global warming pollution from their wells, and Midwestern power plants to burn less coal.  Now he personally will make the final critical decisions about the preservation of streams, ponds and wetlands as he takes control of the Clean Water Act.  Missouri has 110,000 miles of streams and a reputation for bountiful, clean water that has drawn many to settle in this part of the country.  Mr. Pruitt’s reputation is up in the air.  Meanwhile the Missouri Department of Conservation reminds us to be “Bear Aware.”  Mushroom hunters need to be alert, particularly in unfamiliar territory where they might meet a bear or a landowner with questions.

The Grower’s Market on the Ava Square is up and going strong again from 7 a.m. to noon every Saturday.  It is a great place to buy in-season fruits and vegetables, a variety of handcrafted items, baked goods and organic and naturally grown plants and starts, as well as poultry and small livestock.  There is something new every week.  On Sunday, the 29th, there will be an Old Fashioned Social On-The-Square.  The square will be full of Ozark music, gospel singing, food and an antique car show during the day as part of the wind up the 2500 Miles of Arts and Culture event sponsored by the Ava Area Chamber of Commerce.  Artisans from the Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks (October 6 and 7) will be at the Old Fashioned Social to visit with you as they demonstrate their skills and crafts that depict Ozark culture and history.  www.heritage417.com is a good place to go for information about the Pioneer Heritage Festival.

Aficionados of The Champion News at www.championnews.us are noticing that the last two editions are presented with no pictures.  It seems that lightening ran across a tin roof via the telephone line on Friday the 13th, frying the telephone, two computers, a fan and some of the lighting in the home of the TCN administrator.  A week later the Century-Link folks have still not sent repair people to address the damage.  Perseverance is the watchword.  When all is right again, the full color illustrations will be plugged into the articles.  There are many good photos there to be seen in the archives such as Bud Hutchison’s Spring Trail Ride in the May 22, 2017 post.

Even someone who loves driving can want to be a passenger on a Saturday trip to town.  Running along the ridges with great distant vistas on either hand is glorious this time of the year.  The far hills are blue in the clear air and the countless shades of green swell and fall in folds and rolls down to ponds and creeks in the bottoms.  The views are enough to distract even a cautious driver.  Dogwoods in high spots were already flowering and soon the deep woods will have splashes of white to contrast with redbuds.  Passersby in Near West Champion observed a large gathering of Kriders, Wisemans, Upshaws and Cauthrons enjoying a Saturday together.  It was reported that they had a weenie roast, s’mores, puppies, and rides in the side by side.  (The puppies were just for petting and frolicking—not part of the menu.)  Kalyssa’s Mom was credited for having planned the gathering.  Her cousin made an internet posting declaring “Fun Times!” She also put up a video of Foster on his Granddad’s mandolin and The General on guitar doing a solid rendition of “Wildwood Flower.”  The General says, “Another big celebration is planned at Fae’s house the next time she leaves town.”

Climb a tree to wish Jacob Moffett happy birthday on April 24th.  Sing, “Abilene, Abilene, sweetest gal I’ve ever seen” to Gay Masters out in West Texas.  Her husband used to refer to her as ‘The Old Fat Lady’ to his peers and friends who were always surprised when they met the tall, attractive woman.  The 26th is for sweet Ruby Proctor’s youngest son.  Skyline School’s second grade student, Eli Johnson, has his birthday on April 28th.  Eight grader, Isaam Creed, celebrates on the 29th and Taegan Krider, second grader, on April 30th.  Birthdays give us the opportunity to acknowledge the people we love and appreciate, to let them know we are glad to have them in our lives.  The Champion Spring Fling on May 5th will be a chance to say, “Happy Birthday” to the Prominent Champion Spouse and to say, “Howdy” to neighbors and wanderers who are ready for a party after a long quiet winter.  There will be music and yarns strung from here to yonder about the good old days and old friends who once strolled around these historic grounds.  There will be catfish, Cole slaw, baked beans, hush puppies, hamburgers, hot dogs and the famous curly potatoes available at a nominal cost provided by the Prominent Champion Couple.  If you like, bring a dessert to share.  The birthday person likes cupcakes.  Bring your lawn chairs, your musical instruments and while away a pleasant afternoon among old friends and new ones.  Join in to sing a song for Bud–“Happy trails to you, until we meet again,” if you are a Roy Rogers fan.  Gene Autry’s fans sing, “I’m back in the saddle again out where a friend is a friend….Woopi-ty-aye-oh Rockin’ to and fro Back in the saddle again.  Whoopi-ti-aye-yay I go my way Back in the saddle again”… in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Blue hills in the distance.