Old Glory

Almost everyone we know is a Veteran or is the child, grandchild or parent of a Veteran. We have 438,100 Veterans living in Missouri 9.4% of the population—here in Douglas County about 12%. This week well-deserved special attention is devoted to them as we celebrate them and their families for their commitment to protect and serve our country. We look forward to reading Skyline R2 School’s winners of “Patriot’s Pen” essays and extend our thanks to Mr. Prock, Skyline’s own Veteran. He spent time in the middle-east in recent years. “Join the Navy and see the world!” was a recruiting slogan in the past, but it turns out that joining any branch of the U.S. Military is liable to take you anywhere in the world. And when our Veterans come home, they bring with them a greater understanding of our place in the world. Their experiences ‘over there’ may make them more understanding of other cultures and certainly more appreciative of the land they pledge to support and defend. Sometimes Veterans do not want to talk about their time there, but sometimes they do. It does not hurt to ask, and it is never inappropriate to express gratitude for their service. A grateful Nation owes an everlasting debt. May we pay it in full! The fast moving cold front, complete with ice pellets, snow, rain, dropping temperatures, and strong winds, caused officials to close school down at Skyline at one o’clock on Monday and to cancel school for Tuesday. There was to have been a Veteran’s celebration, scheduled for 2:30 that would have included music, patriotic speeches and a demonstration by Mr. Prock about the correct way to fold our Flag. The celebration may have been canceled, but, hopefully, the reason for it stays in the consciousness of our young students—voters and soldiers of the future. Meanwhile, Champion cattle gathered along a barbed wire fence for shelter.

Skyline’s PTO Fall Festival was a splendid success. The chili was fantastic and the support shown by the community for our important little rural school is commendable. We live in a good part of the world. This wonderful, warm week-end was busy for many as they brought in fire wood, drained hoses, set faucets to drip, filled the bird feeders, insulated dog houses, checked the flue and anti-freeze and chinked drafty windows. The glorious week-end had one Old Champion ignoring the signs, planting garlic during the wrong moon phase as indicated by trusted farmer’s /planter’s almanacs. It is to be noted that many a successful gardener adheres to the do-it-when-you-can philosophy. There will yet be days warm enough to shovel that good stuff and to nourish the garden with insulating leaf blankets.

If we have leapt directly into winter, we did not get much in the way of autumn. Marty Robbins sang “When the Work’s All Done This Fall.” It is a ballad of the combined versions from Norman Blake and Doc Watson, a poignant story of a cowboy determined to get home—home to his Mother. He had left under her protest and had strayed long and far. Just as he recognized his error and his longing for family and for home, tragic fate intervened. It is the kind of sad song that touches the hearts of every sentimental hillbilly, cowboy, or lumberjack, salt sea sailor, baker, farmer, grocer or grandma. The world is full of poignant tragedy. If the opportunity presents itself to help ameliorate suffering, it is a Champion notion to do so. Admonitions aside, music opens doors, hearts and thought processes. Enjoy. Sing loud, on key if you can, but don’t let that stop you.

Winter seems to have come upon us quickly, but we will have days warm enough to let us get a little something done. Our adopted Champion granddaughter, Greta, is off in North Carolina having good conversations about the difference between weather and climate and other associated realities. It is funny. It is sweet that people, who love each other, yet believe opposite things about politics, religion, climate change or chili recipes (beans or no beans), still can care about each other. They still hug and laugh, make thoughtful inquiries about each other and say, perhaps just to themselves, perhaps with eyes rolled, “Bless her/his heart.” The wild vicissitudes of the weather might give some of us an opportunity for those inside wintertime projects that we consider on sunny days–gluing that broken vase, dusting or organizing those photographs, photo documenting spider webs or deer through the window, purging old files, practicing our favorite songs, tidying the pantry, catching up on correspondence, reading, trying new recipes or old ones, napping, ad infinitum. It is an excellent set of circumstances that allows a person to choose how his day goes. Farmers, firefighters, military personnel, postal carriers, EMTs, health care providers, volunteers for Meals on Wheels, law enforcement people and many others…lots of people have to do their jobs regardless of weather conditions. Some of them, during the course of busy days, can stop in at the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square for coffee, conversation and a warm-up by the wood stove that has warmed and comforted generations of Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion cattle huddle by a barbed wire fence.