The world over people are suffering hardship and loss.  Folks in the mid-west are not nearly recovered from the severe flooding there.  Hurricane victims in Florida, Puerto Rico and other places like the countries in East Africa are struggling.  Now we hear of the tragedy at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.  Sometimes all we can do to help is to say that we acknowledge your suffering and wish you well.

Gardens are beckoning.  There is optimism in laying out the rows, in the tilling and raking, the transplanting, seeding and mulching.  There is every chance that this will be the best, most fruitful and lovely garden yet.  For some older gardeners, the paths are getting wider and the garden beds more narrow, but the enthusiasm is there, balanced out with the rheumatism.  When it is time for weeding, some old folks alternate the chore with reading in the shade, perhaps Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, “What is a weed?  A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”  Some say that dandelions are not weeds at all, but are from the same family as sunflowers.  The seeds can travel on the air up to five miles before they land to sprout in someone else’s garden.  They say every part of the dandelion is edible.  (1 cup of greens has 535% of your daily recommendations for vitamin K and 112% of vitamin A)  Up until the 1800s, dandelions were seen as extremely beneficial.  People would remove grass to plant dandelions.  They are one of the first blooming plants in the spring that support our very important pollinators.  The dandelion is the school flower of the University of Rochester in New York.  Pete informed some garden enthusiasts over at the Vanzant Bluegrass Hall last Thursday that it will be time to plan the corn when the hickory leaves are as big as squirrel’s ears.  There are eight species of hickory trees in Missouri and four species of squirrels, so we are blessed with latitude so long as the signs are right.

Wilma Hutchison says that if you need to have a place like Heart of the Ozarks Healthcare Center, that one is great.  She says the people are friendly, the food is good and there is always something interesting going on.  She is anxious to go home, but since she will have to be there for a little while, recovering from a fall, she is going to make the most of it.  Wilma has a sunny disposition and likes people, so she will enjoy the visiting until she can get home.  Her Champion friends wish her a speedy recovery.

Texan Dave Thompson used to sing Old Lost River for his friends in these parts.  His birthday is April 17th.  Myrtle Harris will celebrate her 90th birthday on Saturday the20th at the Vanzant Community Building.  It will be at 1 o’clock with cake, ice cream and a three piece country band.  She is celebrating on the 20th, but Myrtle’s birthday is the 19th, also the day for Mrs. Heather, an aide at Skyline School.  Mrs. Mayberry is a teacher there with a birthday on the 21st.  Jordan Ellingsworth, second grade student, and fifth grader, Shelby Wilson, will enjoy the 23rd and 24th, respectively, for their big exciting birthdays.  Tree-guy, Jacob Moffett, celebrates on the 24th as well.  Happy birthday wishes to all of you from The Champion News.  Have some fun.  The Skyline Fun Run 5K Donut Dash has been rescheduled for Saturday the 27th.  Hopes are that the weather will be altogether better and that the run will indeed be fun.  For fun, spell this out loud:  “OICU812!”  Here is an interesting conversation:  “AB, C D goldfish?” “M N O goldfish, AB.”  “O S A R.”

For the many who have not yet become so old and poor that they no longer have to pay taxes, it is a relief to have April 15th finally over.  There are complaints about new forms and refunds are not turning out to be what people were expecting.  But still, what a gift it is to be a taxpayer and to reap the rewards of our communal alliance.  We pool our resources to support our infrastructures, our schools, our wonderful Medicare, our Military, our environment, and many other things that benefit us all.  If gormless administrators squander, siphon and misappropriate our investment and shirk their own contributions, never mind.  We have sports, television, church, the internet, the garden and our jobs, complete with FICA deductions, to keep us occupied and our attention diverted from the realities.  Being ever so vigilant is exhausting.

We are reminded that mushroom season is also about the time that the copperheads make themselves known.  Some information from reliable sources on the internet say that if an adult bites you, you may only get a dry bite.  If you smell cucumber for no reason, you are within striking distance of a copperhead and you have already disturbed him.  Juveniles often have a yellow tip on the tail.  Possums eat copperheads, so leave the possums alone.  Other snakes, such as rat snakes compete with copperheads for food.  King snakes eat copperheads so leave them alone.

If there is one thing Vanzant could use, it is a few more Upshaws.  The General’s sister-in-law, Sue Upshaw, is coming to town together with her daughters, Loni and Darcy, and Darcy’s husband, Ron Cecil.  They will enjoy the beauty of spring in the Ozarks for a few days, lodging at Chateau Upshaw in the City Center.  They live way out west and Loni lives way, way out west in Alaska where she is a Major in the Salvation Army.  This bunch proves that a family can be close even if they are far flung.

The charming instigator of the Third Annual Champion Spring Fling has not, and will not come unglued, but she has finally set the date!  Saturday, May 11th starting at about 11 a.m., there will be lots of great food and music on the Square.  Bring your lawn chairs, your sun bonnet and your friends and get ready for an old fashioned spring social down on the wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek where country roads meet the pavement.  Everyone is welcome.  Go to the May 7, 2018 post and to the one for May 8, 2017 in the archives at to see what it is all about.  You are liable to see people you have not seen in years and likely to meet some new friends and neighbors.  Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!