May 22, 2017

CHAMPION-May 22, 2017


Bud Hutchison’s Spring Trail Riders relaxing on the steps at the Historic Emporium
on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion.

It was a windy day in Champion for Bud Hutchison’s Spring Trail Ride, but a beautiful day and the ride was another great success by all accounts.  There were a dozen in all who took their regular route starting out along Fox Creek Road, ambling through the Shannon Ranch and then wading across the wide, fast moving Fox Creek to come back into Champion from the east.  One said that it was pretty exciting to be in the woods with all the strong wind and there was a report of a couple of the riders dismounting to mend somebody’s fence along the way.  They all came in pleased for the outing and the fellowship and happy for the ice cream at the end of the trail.  Bud led the way on his horse, Jim Bob.  Riding along with him was Don Hamby on Butch, Calvin Chambers on Betty Ann, Nancy Emerson Perryman on Ginger, Frank and Mary Williams on Rosie and Magic, Jeff Alcorn on Lace, Bill Bruner on Dream, Bill Winkelmann on Cookie, Cindy Hufham on Dolly, Andrew Harden on Cloud, Sharon Langley Stillings on Whistling Dixie, and Kenny Woolider on Dolly.  Wilma Hutchison had them line up for their photograph mounted before they headed out.  She must have quite an album of those pictures as she has been chronicling Bud’s trail rides for as long as he has been having them—some while now.  She waited for their return and enjoyed the day visiting with old friends and new ones as they came through the Historic Emporium.  Wednesday is often an eventful day in Champion and Bud’s bunch made it more so.

School is out so Kyle and Caleb Barker had the chance to spend some time with their Granddad at Champion on Wednesday.  They walked down to the creek together where Kyle found a stone that had metal in it–some kind of ore.  When he finds out what it is, hopefully he will share the information with The Champion News.  Meanwhile, Caleb endured teasing as his name was substituted for a groundhog in one song and as the person coming around the mountain in another one.  He is a good sport, however, and responded with a smile.  Their old Grandpa Upshaw will be the stuff of their legends in the future.  He and Frank and Pete Proctor will be the perpetrators of good works on Wednesday as they will be busy mowing over at Delow getting ready for the Denlow/Fairview School Reunion on Saturday.  The General says there will be music starting at 11:00, “featuring anyone wishing to play and sing with the Fox Creek Hee-Haw ensemble.”  There is always a good potluck dinner at this affair and usually a fun filled auction out in the pavilion.  Hopes are that the weather is good and all the travelers from distant places have easy, safe trips back to the place where so much of their happy youth was spent.  Pete says, “Come and enjoy some of your old friends….hope to see you there.”

Skyline student birthdays include the one of Heidi Strong who will be in the 6th grade next year.  She shares her day with Teresa Wrinkles, who has spent some time in school herself.  The 27th was Ed Henson’s birthday.  He was 95 years old when he passed away in 1998.  He is legendary in Champion.  Brylee Clark was in kindergarten this year and will be a first grader in the fall.  Her birthday is on the 28th.  That is Dale Tomas’s birthday too.  He is a town dweller now and his friends hope he and Betty are finding it enjoyable.  The 29th is Joseph Kennedy’s birthday.  He will be in the 4th grade at Skyline in the fall.  Kazie Perkins of KZ88 FM public radio also enjoys her birthday that day.  The 30th is the special day for Gabriella Frey who will be a first grade student in the fall.  Champion granddaughter, Alex in Austin, TX will have her birthday on the 31st.  She was recently recorded playing The Maple Leaf Rag on the piano.  Her old grannie was much impressed.  Birthdays come around more quickly when you are old, so enjoy every one of them and all the time in between.

Nanette Hirsh of the Douglas County Health Department helping Champions stay well.

May 30th will be the last Tuesday of the month and Champions know that that is the day they can expect Nannette Hirsh of the Douglas County Health Department to be at the store from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. doing blood pressure checks as a service to the community.  She joins a great list of folks whose work makes life sweet in Champion.  They work on the roads, put out the fires.  They keep the electricity flowing, the phone lines working and the mail running.  Thank you all.  The last hard rain of 2.6 inches undid some of the fine work that the fellows from the Drury Shed had done up on Cold Springs Road, but they will be back on it again soon and locals will be patient and go the long way around when they need to.  There are doubtlessly a number of spots like that around the area so give them a smile and a wave when you see them out working.  Encouragement is a Champion commodity.

Memorial Day is the federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.  It originated as Decoration Day after the American Civil War in 1868 and by the 20th century was extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service.  It marks the beginning of summer holidays and is celebrated with picnics and barbeques and all manner of family gatherings.  Amid the merriment will be a few serious discussions concerning the current abysmal state of affairs.  French philosopher, Albert Camus, said, “And I should like to be able to love my country and still love justice.  I don’t want any greatness for it, particularly a greatness born of blood and falsehood.  I want to keep it alive by keeping justice alive.”  Journalist Laura C. Keeling said, “America will not be destroyed by undocumented workers, same sex marriage, Muslims, or abortion, but rather by unreasonable fears, uncontrollable hatred, divisive politics, unethical politicians, deliberate misinformation and a gullible population.”  Note that fewer than half the eligible voters exercised their franchise last year and fewer than half of those who did vote were satisfied with the outcome.  So, wear your poppies, express your gratitude, sing a few bars of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and hope for the best.

It is still quite early in the gardening season for people in this latitude.  There is time yet to get some beans in the ground, to set out a few tomato plants, and plant some okra and squash.  These cool sunny days are just right for being out in the beauty of it all and physical activity provides a great distraction from your worries.  Come down to the wide, wild and wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek for some refreshment after your hard work.  Situate yourself comfortably on the spacious veranda and hum some of that great song, “America!  America! God shed His grace on Thee!” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

The horses get good attention at the end of the trail.

May 15, 2017

CHAMPION—May 15, 2017


Clever Creek is now passable.

Champions look out across their green and growing landscape and feel awfully blessed and good about the choices they have made that got them here.  Some were born and raised here and chose to stay.  More than one married someone who came from this part of the world and returned with him or her.  Others strayed here with the back to the land movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and every decade since.  People from all over retire here, and why not?  It is Champion.

Connie Brown and Joy Ann Coonts Firrell both had a birthday on May 12th.  Connie lives in Mountain Grove and can often be seen in the company of her Dad, a Champion School Alumni.  Joy Ann lives in Bluegrass, Iowa and has deep connections to Champion.  She said that her grandparents, William Thomas and Zada Lee Rhoades Coonts, lived in front of the store and behind the school with a field between them.  She said her dad skipped school so much that when he would go, he cut across the field to get there.  In 1844, her great, great grandpa, James L. Coonts, owned Coonts Holler in Champion.  He divided it between his kids.  Willard Coonts was one of her grandfather’s brothers.  He owned the Coonts Store in what is now called Evans.  All this means, more than likely, that she is kin to the Cowboy!  That has to be fun.  Joy Ann has been working on her family tree for 30 years now.  She said that if you look on ‘Find a Grave’ on Google, it gives you all the kids’ names [and perhaps their birthdays.]  The day after Skyline third grade student, Gracie Nava, had her birthday on the 7th of May, Mrs. Dixie had her birthday.  Mrs. Dixie retires this year from her years of good work at the school.  She will be having a long-lasting summer vacation. Enjoy!  Second grader, Meikel Klein, will celebrate on the 17th and fifth grader, Heidi Strong, will have her special day on the 22nd.  Champion granddaughters, Zoey and Alex, will help their dad have a great day on the 16th.  Rachel Cohen up in Chicago, is Waylon’s mother.  Her birthday is on the 18th, which also was the birthday of an old Champion’s mother, Exer Lynnie Hector Masters.  She was born in 1913, and passed away in 1975.  She is missed every day.  Birthdays and Mother’s Day give us the chance to celebrate and remember in an open, public way what we feel every day–love and gratitude for our family and friends—for those gone on and those we can call on the phone and/or hug in person.  Happy Days, you Champions!

Brenda Coffman Massey is one of the people to contact about the Eastern Douglas County Volunteer Fire Department garage sale at the Vanzant Community Building on Saturday.  It sounds like a person can get a space there for a fee and then get rid of (oops, ‘share’) some of the great abundance of one’s accumulation of interesting and possibly useful things.  For enthusiasts of great bargain shopping it will be a field day.  Brenda is a stalwart supporter of her VFD and has her hand in every good cause in the area.  Many are the burgers she has flipped at the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department Picnics.  It is nice to see communities supporting each other.  The Denlow School Reunion is coming up soon, so Pete and the General and the boys will be in high gear getting things organized.  We have survived the floods and spring is full on us.  It is easy to be grateful in spring.  Everything is growing.  People are smiling.  Spring cleaning is going on and you never know what wonderful thing you might find in a garage sale.  A ride through the country to get there is a dazzling experience this time of the year.  Cabins have disappeared into the woods again.  Forgotten wild flowers are reappearing in profusion.  That feeling of optimism and renewal is all over the place.  That is the way it is at the Thursday night jam in Vanzant where people come to hobnob and forget their troubles while accomplished musicians and neophytes keep it lively.  The Monday night acoustic jam at the Cabool Senior Citizens Center is getting very good reviews.  Light hearted and fun, they say, and great music.  There are jams being held all around and anybody interested can find them.  Just ask around.  Indeed, we are lucky to live in this part of the world.  “And I think to myself, what a wonderful world,” sang Louis Armstrong.

Neighbors over in Nebraska are still at it in their opposition to the Keystone Pipeline.  Natives in North Dakota can already report oil spills.  They say a small spill in April (84 gallons of crude oil) was completely remediated and posed no threat to the water table.  The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe continues to fight Energy Transfer Partners in court in an effort to halt the project’s expected opening next month.  The political scene has become more bazar with serious ethical issues in the governor’s office and absurd shenanigans on a national level also having severe ethical ramifications.  A guy named Kierkegaard said, “There are two ways to be fooled.  One is to believe what isn’t true.  The other is to refuse to accept what is true.”  Heaven help us all.

In the award winning book, “The Education of Little Tree” published in 1976 by Forrest Carter who also wrote “The Outlaw Josey Wales,” “Gramma said when you come on something good, first thing to do is share it with whoever you can find; that way, the good spreads out where no telling it will go.  Which is right.”  It has played out in a lovely way in our area as a friend who has been suffering with the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease has discovered an exercise regime that seems to be helping to tie brain function in with muscle control which is the neurological problem with the disease.  The easy exercises also seem applicable to all of us who are having issues with stamina and balance.  She shared with a mutual friend who shared with The Champion News.  As particulars become available TCN will be pleased to share.  It is called Chi Kung.

In Edinburgh, Champion Morag Edward writes, “The bowl of oats on my windowsill is filled with sparrows.  Sparrow porridge is very, very loud.  The mother is shoveling the oat flakes into the chicks, yet they manage to squawk FEED ME and eat at the same time.  Now she’s glaring at me like she thinks I should be helping.”  They have been suffering drought over in Scotland for the first time in a long time, even having fires in outlying areas.  A nice rain on the 12th was well celebrated, while here many are yet dealing with significant flood damage.  The phone lines and internet were full of wonderful loving messages for mothers everywhere.  There was even a report of Lem and Ned back in the neighborhood.  If you see or hear tell of them, please inform on them at or drop a note about anything to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367 Norwood, MO 65717.  If you are looking for a little respite from the hubbub of the busy world, take a trip down WW off of C Highway and hum a few bars of “The Maple Leaf Rag.”  Soon you will run out of pavement just on the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Cold Springs Road to Champion

May 8, 2017

CHAMPION—May 8, 2017


Champion’s Spring Fling–Looking on the Bright Side!

Champions are grateful for a good idea conjured up by the Prominent Champion Girlfriend back in March.  It was her birthday wish that came true on Saturday with the Square full of people enjoying the fish-fry and the pleasure of the company of friends and neighbors at the Whoop De Do Spring Fling.  It was a glorious sunny day after so many glum and dreary ones.  Everyone was happy to put the yard work off for a little while longer just to have the chance to visit and share flood stories.  Charlie Lambert came from way up on the other side of Springfield.  He brought his mandolin, but didn’t get around to playing it.  There was a lot of catching up to do.  Music happened and the birthday girl and her friends and her Prominent Beau worked with good humor to be sure the bunch was well fed.  It was just right.  Thanks to everyone who made it happen and to the Champions who came from near and far to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek again.  Many regular visitors to the Historic Emporium were able to attend, but Elmer could not.  He lives on the other side of Fox Creek which was still running high and deep.  He has been marooned for some while, and his neighbors are only grateful that he has been marooned in such good company.  Champion!

Pete Proctor said he was inducted into the U.S. Army on May 3rd, 1967—fifty years ago to serve his Country for two years and he is proud of it.  We are proud of Pete too and proud of all those who have served and who currently serve the Nation in and out of uniform.  Pete and his brother and thousands of others served in Vietnam.  The official end of the Vietnam War was April 30, 1975.  It is still germane.  Our wars, past and present, stay with us.  It seems like a never ending procession.  As Memorial Day approaches and the process of remembering comes to mind, a friend posted on the internet:  “A lovely military man selling poppies stopped me today and asked if he could reposition mine.  While doing so he told me that women should wear their poppy on their right side:  the red represents the blood of all those who gave their lives, the black represents the mourning of those who didn’t have their loved ones return home, and the green leaf represents the grass and crops growing and future prosperity after the war destroyed so much.  The leaf should be positioned at 11 o’clock to represent the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the time that World War One formally ended.  He was worried that younger generations wouldn’t understand this and his generation wouldn’t be around for much longer to teach them.”  “We cherish too, the Poppy red/ That grows on fields where valor led,/  It seems to signal to the skies/ That blood of heroes never dies.”  This was written by Moina Michael in 1915.  She then conceived the idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving the Nation during war.  She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need.  The Royal British Legion said “There is no right or wrong lapel, or right or wrong leaf position, no right or wrong time of day, no right or wrong start date.  The best way to wear a poppy, is to wear it with pride.”  So we will be proud of our Veterans.  We will wear our poppies and hope that common sense will prevail in the dangerous and complicated world in which we find ourselves.  The world is full of despots and greedy people who are willing to use our patriotic young people for nefarious purposes when they could be helping to alleviate the appalling suffering and deprivation in the world.  It makes a person wonder.

On Friday the internet was full of great pictures posted by parents and grandparents of the Skyline School students who were part of the play “The Wizard of Oz’ that was presented on Thursday evening.  Mrs. Casper, Mrs. Coonts, and Mrs. Downs did the adult behind-the-scenes work that allowed the students to shine in this excellent presentation.  May 11th will be the annual Field Day and the last day of school is scheduled to be May 12th.  Summer stretches out for the children as if it will last a long time.  Old folks know that it will go fast so they admonish the youngsters and vacationing staff to enjoy.

The Square was a full parking lot in Downtown Champion for the Celebration of Spring.
The birthday girl, her beau and her friends served up a great fish fry for the crowd.

New road conditions may well be working a hardship on our intrepid United States Postal Service employees.  Their routes have probably had to change substantially to accommodate washed out low water crossings, but they have been getting the job done.  They and those wonderful Road Grader Guys are real local heroes.  As the waters recede, the damage becomes more evident.  Many old timers say they have never seen the water so high in this part of the country.  Recovery will be a slow process and Champions will continue to be grateful for the good fortune that things were not worse and appreciative of the hard work of our mail people and road people.

Yard work and gardening are the major activities of some old Champions this time of the year.  All that rain has incited things to grow at a break-neck speed.  Gardeners have been rushing to get their above ground crops in before the full moon.  After that the beets and carrots and turnips can go in.  Good days for transplanting will be 18, 19, 20, 23 and 24.  Some people go strictly by the astrological signs and others go by when they are able to get things done.

Ann Reeves Jarvis was a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War and created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues.  She died in 1905.  Her daughter, Anna Jarvis, held a memorial for her mother and promoted the idea of Mother’s Day to honor all mothers, because she is “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.”  As time went by, Ms. Jarvis protested against the commercialization of the holiday.  It was her notion that people should appreciate and honor their mothers through handwritten letters expressing their love and gratitude, instead of buying gifts and pre-made cards.  Now we have telephones and the internet, so those personal communications are a little different.  Jimmy Rogers wrote a great song appropriate to the celebration.  “I had a home out in Texas, out where the bluebonnets grew.  I had the kindest old mother.  How happy we were just we two.  Till one day the angels called her, that debt we all have to pay.  She called me close to her bedside, these last few words to say…”  Well, his mother extracted a promise from him that he would always go straight.  The song goes on to reveal that he broke the promise but then came to his senses.  Come to your senses down on the wide, wild and very wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek…Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!

Part of the crowd moved their chairs up into the shade to enjoy their lunch. Later the musicians joined them there for some great tunes.

May 2, 2017

CHAMPION—May 1, 2017


Thanks to Sami McCleary for this picture of Champion high water.

May Day!  Champions are pleased to report that we join our neighbors in being grateful that things were not as bad as they could have been.   Gratitude is the flip side of our neighbor’s suffering.  That is to say, we have but to cast our eyes about to find others in less desirable circumstances. We are, therefore, in a position to offer help.  One of the best gifts a person can receive is the opportunity to help.  So, if you need some, ask.

The internet has been a great resource during the inundation.  From it came the many postings that let us know about road closures and bridge failures as well as assurances to family afar.  There was also a timely Newsy Break from the Vanzant Weathered Bureau and Part-Tyme Distillery.  To wit:  “Chunks of I-44 has washed into down-town Vanzant and blocking traffic.”  Lynette Cantrell replied that the General’s observation might actually have had some substance as there were detours from I-44 coming through Cabool on their way back to I-44 via Rolla to Cabool to Springfield.  She also confirmed that the Monday Night Acoustic Jam at the Senior Center in Cabool was to be a ‘Go!”   Musicians are unflappable.  Lynette favored the Thursday Vanzant Bluegrass Jam with “There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly.”  She also has a very sweet touch on her mandolin, one to match her smile.  Nine guitars, two banjoes, four mandolins, three ukuleles, three fiddles and Sherry Bennett on the dog house bass made for another great evening. (A number of the musicians play multiple instruments.)  There are neophytes among the bunch of real musicians and it is a sweet mix.  Next week someone will sing, “Oh! The night was dark and stormy, the air was full of sleet, the old man stepped out in the yard and his shoes were full of feet.  Oh!  It ain’t a gonna rain no more no more, it ain’t a gonna rain no more!  How in the world do the old folks know that it ain’t a gonna rain no more?”  Champions do not necessarily want it to not rain any more, they would just like half an inch a week through the gardening season.  Like Zoey Louise says, “You get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit.”  It is not like a person can do anything about the weather anyway.  That begs the question about whether human activity has anything to do with what is perceived to be the acceleration of climate change.  There are some who say, “Yea” and others who say otherwise.  Old people who have had a lifetime of observations and experience are interested in the future of their grandchildren.  They are generally alert to the fact that there are more than seven billion human beings on the planet right now (7.4 billion) and a small powerful bunch of them do not give a tinker’s damn about anything other than their own best interests, let alone the future.  “Exciting times!” you say.

Some of the good news out of the chaos is that thirty-six Champion milk cows that were feared to have been lost have been found.  They have gone a while without milking, so hopes are that they will make a good recovery and rejoin the herd soon.  Champions will have tales to tell for a long time to come.  Birthday celebrations for Taegan Krider were abbreviated because of the excitement, but she is being appreciated for having helped out in the crisis by entertaining her little sister and generally being a good sport.  She is a farm girl…that explains it.  Waldo Champion, Linda Heffern, has a birthday on the 6th of May.  Third grade Skyline Student Gracie Nava will enjoy her special day on the 7th and Mrs. Dixie celebrates the next day, the 8th.  She is retiring so has lots of reasons to celebrate, though Skyline will miss her.  Champion Bonnie Brixey Mullens celebrates on the 9th.  She and Pete will surely make it to the Denlow School Reunion.  It is always a pleasure to see them.  They have a lot of history in the area and deep connections.  They live out in Wichita and have family connections there close to them that are the envy of other old Champions—children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren—what a blessing.

Hummingbirds are back and ready to deplete the area of its sugar.  It turns out that the red food coloring in store bought ‘nectar’ is really bad for the little birds.  It makes them sick.  They do well without it and as far as feeders go, these ravenous ones could probably do just fine without them.  This time of the year there are lots of nectar sources, it is just that the people like seeing their ruby throated friends so much.  They remind us of the fleeting nature of life and of resilience.  They have just flown thousands of miles to come home to Missouri and welcome they are.  They live for as long as eight years and come back to where they were hatched every year.  It is one of the marvels of nature.  While natives are busy enjoying the birds and reclaiming their yards from the storms’ ravages, they will also be being mindful of the Douglas County Road guys as they repair the water damage, and of the first responders who stand to safeguard us when we need it, and the electric co-op people and the telephone people who do what they have to do to make our lives normal again.  It is easy to take this great infrastructure for granted, so thank all you folks for your hard work and dedication.

“I cannot be an optimist but I am a prisoner of hope.”  Those are the words of a prominent contemporary philosopher.  They strike home these days as the political climate is more dismal than anyone might have expected.  The absurdity of current national politics will go down in history as mind boggling.  There is no need to go into particulars other than to say that the Regressives are flourishing.  Health care, public education, the environment, civil liberties, the free press, the Veterans and others can all look to recoup the damage, but it may well take decades.  Meanwhile, a good question might be “How much is enough?”  How rich does one have to be to be satisfied?  The Insatiables have it!

The Champion Spring Fling is still a go.  Come down to the wide wild wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek for a vision of resilience.  The festivities will kick off about 11 in the morning on Saturday, May 6th with a fish fry, music and the chance to see your neighbors at their best. Bring your lawn chairs, your appetite, your musical instruments and your good humor.  Roger Miller wrote a great song that is appropriate here, “Thunder rolling, lightning flashing, right through the middle of it I’d go dashing, just to show how far I’d go for you,  if you want me to!” to Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


April 24, 2017

CHAMPION—April 24, 2017


The aproach of Spring in Champion.

After a soggy few days, to see the sun on Sunday was a joy and anyone who doubts that Spring has arrived must be watching television instead of being out in the beauty of it all.  Lawn mowers will be sputtering for the next few days trying to get caught up and some of the operators of those mowers will complain about the rampant growth when recently they were complaining about having to haul firewood and ashes.  Country living is sublime, most particularly in Champion.

Ms. Collins, of Champion-East (Vanzant) posted a nice picture of Duane and his turkey.  Then Ms. Rodgers sent a picture of her Jim and his turkey for Ruth to show Duane.  A couple of big tom turkeys bring smiles that don’t show up on the photographs because these guys are serious.  Surely, when everyone is looking away the hunters must grin from ear to ear.  There is plenty of reason to be happy.  Turkey season is putting groceries on the table and smiles on faces and feathers in caps.  This week is also staff appreciation week at Skyline School.  There are twenty-three people there every school day doing what does the very best good for our young people….education!  Thank you, every one of you.  Parents and others with a vested interest in the welfare of the children in our quality little rural school are welcome to show your appreciation with treats, supplies or kind words all week, and well, anytime.  Appreciation might boost their spirits.  Mrs. Ryan, teacher, and Mrs. Beth, bus driver, both have birthdays on May 1st.  Eighth grade student, Madison Shearer, will celebrate on the 2nd.  This will be her last year at Skyline and she will move on the next phase of her learning, another adventure.  Another adventurer partying on the 2nd is up in Springfield–Leo’s Grandmother.  She is the grandmother of a number of interesting and talented people and has a great Affinity Estate Sales business.  She knows her stuff.  Champions wish happy days to all you celebrants and to the people who know and love you.

“Take control of your future:  grow your own food, preserve your own food, trade and barter, cook from scratch, save your own seed, become self-sufficient,” says the homesteader on the internet.  It is a great idea and one that captures the desires and imaginations of many who are in the midst of learning how to match their expectations with their relative vigor.  It is exciting to see what some young folks over in Denlow are doing on the place that some people call the ‘pink’ house, though it has not been pink for a long time.  Passing by quickly, because the narrow winding road calls for vigilance, it looks like there is good gardening going on and that there are innovative chicken facilities.  To see an old place revitalized and thriving is an especially positive sight for people who are more accustomed to seeing the old places in decay.  Hopes are that the folks who live there now are well acquainted with the history of the place and the interesting lives and times of the people who grew up there and are now long gone.  “This old house was home and comfort as we fought the storms of life.”

Esther said not to swerve for a squirrel.  Nothing that you can do will affect the behavior of the squirrel.  What will happen will happen, and it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the squirrel.  Turtles are different.  You can see them from a distance.  They do not move in any kind of erratic way and you generally have time to make a small temporary adjustment in your trajectory to miss them.  They are moving around these days—mating and nesting.  The Missouri Department of Conservation says that there are seventeen kinds of turtles in the state and all but three of them are ‘protected.’  They are no threat to game fish and are beneficial scavengers.  They eat water plants, dead animals, snails, aquatic insects and crayfish.  Box turtles live on land and eat plants.  Our local species of box turtles live an average of 40 to 50 years.  Ethics would dictate that putting a protected box turtle on a fence post or in the crotch of tree in order to add to your turtle shell collection next winter might fall into the category of ‘unethical.’  Ethics are not tricky.  They are just the moral principles that govern a person’s behavior.  It is what your Mother meant when she gave you that stern look and said, “Behave.”

The set list for a Champion musician’s regular Saturday night gig at The Royal Oak in sister-city Edinburgh routinely includes covers of tunes made popular by Hank Williams, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash and others.  One evening recently there was a group of appreciative patrons enjoying the music and the atmosphere for the first time in the iconic establishment.  It was only as they added to the tip jar and made their way out on to the street that the musicians learned that they were Russian.  They look just like everyone else.  It turns out that they are regular people like us.  They just speak a different language and have a different government that is doing no better job of representing its people than the current outfit on this side of the world.  The rhetoric and Machiavellian machinations of so called foreign policy rife with faux-conflict and obfuscation does not translate very well to regular people out here in every-day-land.  It would be easy to close our eyes and say, “Let somebody else worry about all this stuff that does not really have anything to do with us”.  That might be the reason we are in this pickle.  “Where are our pitch forks?”  These days we make our voices heard over the telephone:  The White House (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1414, Governor Greitens (573) 751-3222, Roy Blunt (202) 224-5721, Claire McCaskill (202) 224-6154, Billy Long (202) 225-6536.  Jason Smith (202) 225-4404.

Gardeners are getting busy with spring planting and the ticks and chiggers are already out in force.  May Day is coming up so there will be parties going on all around the world.  The much anticipated Champion Spring Fling will happen on the 6th of May.  That is a Saturday.  Things will kick off about 11:00 and there will be good food, good music and the chance to reconnect with old friends and neighbors.  Harley and Barbara will miss it, but the internet had some good pictures of Barbara’s Illinois morels so their friends and family will not feel too bad about it.  Come down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek that day for a good time.  Bring your lawn chairs.  Remember that Roger Miller song, “Walking in the sunshine, sing a little sunshine song.  Put a smile upon your face as if there’s nothing wrong.  Think about a good time you had a long time ago.  Think about, forget about your worries and your woes.  Walking in the sunshine, sing a little sunshine song” in Champion—Looking on The Bright Side!