Sad news comes from our Skyline/Champion friend, Lannie Hinote, up in Marshall, Alaska. She writes, “Prayers for our village would be greatly appreciated. An elder passed away, a young man committed suicide, and COVID is in the village.” The Country is awash in prayers and grief over the loss of so much and so many in pestilence, fire, flood and hopelessness. We grieve in different ways. It might happen sometime that you attend a funeral where the only person you know there is the deceased. You hear friends and family talking about that person, revealing things you did not know and you get that familiar feeling of being an outsider, a stranger. It seems that we are going to lots of funerals lately. They bring our own mortality to our thoughts. Who will come to say “Goodbye” to you? Maybe there will be some stranger on the edge of the crowd whose life you touched without your knowing.

Justice Ginsberg said, “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” She said, “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.” The best possible way to honor her contributions to our wonderful democracy is to vote. Imagine the good that could be done with all the money spent on vitriolic political discourse. Ballots for the November 3rd election are available now at the County Clerk’s Office in the Douglas County Court House. In this election, chances are pretty good that everyone knows for certain for whom he will vote. The amendments are another story. A Champion friend writes, “Amendment One tries to give the appearance of reform, but it makes minor token cuts to gifts, etc. that they can take and has hidden inside an attack on term limits of government functionaries, those people who have experience and know how the government works. Amendment Three is set to undo what was overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2018. Ballot language seems to be designed for confusion and obfuscation, designed to make you think you are voting for what you want, when you are really voting against your own best interests. The point of this is to say, it is a good idea to study the issues before you jump to orchestrated conclusions. We will be optimistic and believe in better times ahead.

Things are winding down in the garden. Green tomato hornworms are enjoying their last feast while peppers keep producing and caterpillars feast on milkweed. Felix the Farmer’s old Papa writes in to say, “My butterfly weed now makes a circle about a dozen feet in diameter. That color (neon, electric, atomic orange!) is so intense; I’ll bet my little circle can be seen from space. I saw only a few Monarchs, and no caterpillars, but had many Spicebush Swallowtails and many others, too. That colorful bug seems to come with milkweed, and is appropriately called milkweed bug. I had hundreds of babies this year, and have had them every year I had milkweed. I have read that they employ the same defense as Monarchs, ingesting the poisonous milkweed and rendering themselves also toxic to predators, and advertising the fact with brilliant color.” Some Old Champions carry their camera along with their harvest basket when they head out to the patch. The almanac informs that October 1st and 2nd will be good days to harvest, so we will see if the rabbits, the deer and Wilbur have had an impact on the sweet potato harvest.

The harvest, the safety of our friends and family, the beauty of our natural home places, and hope for tomorrow—those are the things that keep Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!

Milkweed Tussock Moth larva on milkweed

Hornworm Moth larva on tomato

Monarch Butterfly larva on milkweed