Champion Honey Bee

Today is Willie Nelson’s 87th birthday. Champions hope he received piles of birthday cards and good wishes. The U.S. Postal Service is doing an excellent job of keeping us connected during these troubling times. Thank you. A lovely card came from Suzie and Wes Freeman living now down in North Texas, still hillbillies at heart and still doing okay even though they have challenges. The General and the Gipsy are doing well and report the same is true for Jeff Harper and Candi Mae Fiddle. Barbara and Kenneth are fine, or we would have heard. But would we? That is a question that sends us all to the telephone, to the computer and to the mail box. We hope all our dear ones are well and safe and finding ways to enjoy these unusual days. Old friends from decades gone by are dialing us up. It is sweet. A call list of friends and family is a good thing. Dial them up or write notes in your diminishing cursive. Stamps are worth the money and receiving a hand written letter is a delight on a dark day. Our elected representatives might benefit from hearing how much we appreciate the folks that handle our important mail. Desmond Tutu said, “Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put all together that overwhelm the world.” We isolate now so that when we gather again no one is missing. So thanks so much to the USPS, the phone company and the internet. If you can holler across the holler, yodel to your neighbor like you were Jimmy Rogers or Patsy Montana to tell them you are okay and hope they are too…yodel lady who! Brenda C. Massey says, “Thanks to my brother-in-law for cutting the trees out for me or I should have not got out to go to work…a big thank you.” Brenda runs a mail route and is single-handedly responsible for much of the fun that happens across three counties.

Discover Nature

Travis Hathaway said that at 8:05 on Wednesday morning he finally gave a gobbler some lead! It was a 20+ pounder “Finally,” he said, “A dead bird!” He and the fair Savanah had heard gobblers all around them. He sounded pleased about the whole thing. Travis sings “Jimmy Brown the Newsboy” among many other great songs and picks a mean guitar. He is often in the company of Jim Orchard, so there you go. Jimmy Brown had his struggles and so do our local newspapers these days. They are becoming fewer and smaller, some in width, and most in the number of pages, but that was happening before the Corona19 virus hit. One Old Champion gets some of her best newspaper reading done in the garden. She mulches with a layer of newsprint and a covering of straw. It was of some concern to her when the local papers began printing in color, thinking about the chemicals in the ink, but she let that concern go because the earthworms still seem numerous and vigorus. The Herald is still wide, sixteen inches, the perfect separation for pepper plants. The News Journal is narrow, about 11 inches, a good spacing for cabbage plants or ground cucumbers. Reading things you may have missed when the paper was new might be a good way to pace yourself. It is easy to overdo after a cold snap. Gardeners, overdoing it on the nice days and recuperating on dreary ones, hope we have had our last freeze. Honey bees like the fall-planted turnips bolted to bloom. It is a joy to see bees again. Last year they were scarce and some in North Champion were lamenting yet the dramatic pruning of the Ancient Bee Tree on the south side of the Square back in on Valentine’s Day in 2015. The bees held on for a couple of years. Then there were squirrels in what had been the two story hive. Bees are smart so they moved on when their habitat had become inhospitable. They have found a new home somewhere in the area and Champions are glad. As the world’s circumstances change, more of us may be growing our own food as we did in the old days. Bees are the reason we have much of our agricultural produce. And the honey is sweet.

Champion Orioles

Garden exertion reminds one Old Champion of the smell of Watkin’s Liniment. It was her grandmother’s signature scent. Ben Gay is the current equivalent, with perhaps less camphor. We could use a good tonic. Back in the 1940s Hadacol was a popular tonic for young and old. It was a mixture of B vitamins, iron, niacin, calcium, phosphorous, honey and diluted hydrochloric acid in 12% alcohol. It was particularly popular in ‘dry’ parts of the country. The story of the tonic and the company is an intriguing one that has inspired books and a number of boogies. (“The Hadacol boogie makes you boogie woogie all the time.”) The company was relatively short lived and had a hard end. It all had to do with a man Time magazine described as “a stem-winding salesman who knows every razzle-dazzle switch in the pitchman’s trade.” The enterprise collapsed under the weight of debtors, but the music lingers on.

A pleasant posting from Teeter Creek Herbs reminds us of the many varied uses of the herb mullein. It grows in a beautiful rosette with thick soft leaves. In olden days it was submitted that smoking mullein and cedar was a good treatment for asthmatic children. A wild Swedish Indian up on Highway C says to put a leaf of mullein in your shoe to ease any foot trouble. Bob says, “Which brings us to its new-found (but long-known) fame as emergency wilderness toilet paper.” Uncle Al, the Lonesome Plowboy, sang of the virtues of sassafras…”that good old yeller tea. Sassafras, it’s good for you and me. If it put pep in my grandpap, it’ll put pep in you too. Sassafras–that good old southern brew!” That old song was being sung long before the potential risks were discovered back in the 1960s. Now we can research almost anything on the internet and make our best decisions. We used to buy a little bundle of sassafras roots in the produce section of the grocery store.

Bird watching is excellent entertainment for days like these. Angie Melton was excited to see her first blue grosbeak and Indigo buntings in Mountain Grove. Over at the farm house on WW, Wilburn and his bunch have been enjoying Orioles. Connie reported, “8 orange orioles eating cuties and grape jelly for their breakfast!” A Champion driveway was overrun with buntings. We live in a beautiful place in tumultuous times. Stay safe the way we do in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Indigo Buntings