Wilbur up a tree

The official word is that there will be no Skyline Picnic this year.  It will be a great disappointment to all those who count on the event for a chance to meet up with seldom seen friends and to enjoy the great music on the stage and the door prizes.  It will be a loss to the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department, as the picnic is its major annual fund raiser.  While we will miss those wonderful picnic burgers and donated pies and getting to play all the games and walk in the cake walk, we can still find a way to support the vital organization protecting our property and our lives.  Anyone who would like to make a donation can send it to Skyline VFD, Rt. 72 Box 254, Norwood, MO 65717.  If you have good ideas for remote fund-raising, share them at champion@championnews.us.

Distant thunder is a terrible tease to gardeners standing out in a thirsty patch.  Thunder rumbled over around Denlow, then up north, and about sunset on Sunday, Sherry Bennet wrote, “Thank you, Lord, for the good rain in Ava.”  Finally, late in the evening, a little drizzle dropped almost enough to settle Champion dust.  Every drop is met with gratitude.  Wednesday morning’s rain gauge showed six tenths inch of muddy water.  The gauge was a little out of plumb so maybe there was a tad more in Tuesday night’s shower.  Vanzant did not fare so well according to the General.  Mr. Stone reported some storm debris on 95 south.  Summer thunderstorms always have potential for excitement.

Frogs have thyme

Even folks who live in a peaceful rural part of the world are somehow more attune to nature during these unusual homebound days, and though city dwellers may have fewer or different opportunities to appreciate the exquisiteness of our natural world, the exercise is healing for everyone.  One observed that the clouds are often looking like some out of the illustrations in biblical texts—round and roiling and bright against the blue sky or back lit at dusk.  Sunrises and sunsets are being marvelous.  The rabbit or rabbits eating our sweet potato plants are not being much appreciated, though they are charming little creatures.  One friend says to sprinkle blood meal around the plants.  It did not work.  Another says human hair offends rabbits.  A saved braid was strewn about to no avail.  Now the third suggestion is a chicken wire tent over the plants.  Maybe the bunnies will be discouraged enough to look elsewhere for their feasting.  Jonnie, the Friendly Dog, does not seem overly concerned about them, just disappointed that they will not play.  Jonnie might have treed the groundhog, but she was asleep on the porch.  It seems the groundhog; we will call him Wilbur, just likes to spend time up in the tree.  He can be found up there at various times during the day.  Leopard frogs enjoy a good thyme basking in the morning sun.

Gardening is not an inexpensive avocation.  Seed, nursery plants and soil amendments all cost in dollars.  The planning, tending and harvesting are purchased with honest toil.  Then comes the kitchen work that produces the jars of tomatoes so admired for their color and taste.  Lucky are those who can shell beans in the comfort of air conditioning.  The pressure cooker makes a happy “shhh shhh shhh” sound and, as the larder fills, gardeners feel better about the coming winter.  Perhaps the uncertainty of the times has encouraged more people to garden.  Canning jar flats are becoming a scarce commodity.  Hopes are that the market will adjust as it has with toilet paper.  It is supply and demand or demand and supply.  Make those phone calls to your gardening friends to compare your harvests, ask advice about critters, or just to reassure each other that you are well and busy.  It is easy to get lonesome.  Thank you, Mr. Bell, for helping us stay in touch in a time when we cannot hug.

“What a wonderful time to be living!” extols Eulalia Jasmin in her recent letter to The Champion News at Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  She says the current upheaval of the whole world gives us a chance to recalibrate, to reorganize, to rebuild in a better way.  She is excited to be alive right now and hopes she will live long enough to see an improved world.  Her return address is always a mystery.  Use the search engine on the www.championnnews.us website to see her observations, advice and council over the years.  Wherever she is, she says she considers Champion her home, though we do not know if she has ever been here.  “A line from my friends is like balm to my soul,” said Thomas Jefferson to Nathaniel Macon in November of 1821.  A handwritten letter is always welcome.  The USPS is a necessary institution for grandparents marooned from the smartest, most talented, best looking children in the world.  Businessman, Louis DeJoy, heads up the outfit now.  Postal patrons hope he will use his 35 years of business experience in reverse, as his expertise heretofore has been in labor analytics—the art of eliminating as many jobs as possible.  Those voting by mail because of COVID-19 did not have to have their absentee ballots notarized, but they had to arrive at the court house by the 23rd.  (You can still vote absentee by going to the court house up until August 4th.)  The system that has been trusted with our Social Security checks, our medications, and letters from grandchildren should be able to handle the National Election, if left unimpeded.  Maybe Mr. DeJoy will join Ms. DeVos on one of her yachts and they can sail off into the sunset and have some kind of redemptive adventure before they incuriously reach the edge.

We are grateful for the sunshine and the rain, and grateful too for our families and our friends.  As we age, more of them leave us and it is hard to let them go.  While attachment is said to be the root of suffering, we fiercely hold on to their part in our lives.  We miss them.  Saturday morning friends stood in the sunshine on a beautiful hillside to say farewell to one whose friendship will linger in more than memory.  David Scrivner and Herbie Johnston sent her off with “Peace in the Valley” and every heart was touched.  Her enthusiasm for life was contagious and we will smile thinking of Laine and her sweet admonition to us to make the most of our time.  Ever a Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!