There is no denying that Champion is a rural community.  It is thriving, bustling, full of energy and purpose and “ready to do every good work.”  It is also quite green even with the deciduous trees bare and the flowerbeds fallow. Pastures take on the appearance of an antique velvet coverlet that may have been a tapestry of gold and emerald at one time now softened, muted and speckled with brown spots here and there.  The wintertime pastoral scene has an underlayment of solid good earth that speaks of a sound past, a pleasant present, and a bright future—Champion!

A Champion writes, “Dear Aunt Nellie,  Our flimsey littly family grapevine has finally let me know that you are yet living and that you are vigorous and productive.  I pray this is true and that you are enjoying beautiful days.  As my generation of the family ages we often think of the many we have lost.  It is a wonderful thing when we realize at last that we have not really lost our dear ones because what they have given to us is still with us.  One time I told Uncle Doc that one of my best childhood memories was lying on a pallet in the front room of Grandmother and Granddaddy’s house listening to him and my folks out on the porch talking into the night.  There were no lights on in the house and their voices and low laughter were soft but clear over the creak of the rockers.  I held my breath to hear every word and drifted off to deep sleep.  He said that when he was with the kids on the pallet, it was your voice and Aunt Eavvie’s that he listened for and I suddenly had an understanding of the continuity of family.  You are the last one of your generation on both sides of my family.  I just wanted to let you know that the gifts you have shared are still being appreciated.” Champion!  The cold of January brings to mind the passing of  a dear Champion friend and the many good memories and lesson he left.  As the Proctor and Newberry families say good-bye to their precious one, the poem written for Lonnie Krider by Bernice Morgan comes to mind.   A line from  “My Good-bye”  goes, “So share my joy, I’m going home.  I’ve been away too long.  If you want to please me now, then sing a joyful song.”  Sometimes joy is a while in the coming as loss is such a weight.  Champions know they must wait.  Champions would comfort their dear friends.

Reports are that Wilburn had a good birthday on the 10th.  He did not know that he shared it with young Justin Willhite who became twelve years old on that date.  They are neighbors and one can easily enough see the similarities between the two.  They are both good with animals, both a little stubborn and both know how to have fun.  Justin might like to know that when Wilburn was about his age, he and a friend got caught eating the divinity candy that was being stored in a lady’s spring house.  He had to carry one hundred buckets of water for the lady as a punishment.  Wilburn did not say from where to where he carried those buckets of water or if his friend had to do the same, but it still sounds like quite a chore and doubtlessly a good lesson for modern day boys who probably can figure out modern day ways to get in trouble.   Champions both!

Kyle Barker will be five years old on the 21st of January!  He is a lucky lad with a beautiful home place and a rich famiy heritage.  He has very good looking, smart parents and a little brother named Caleb.  Most likely he is spoiled to homemade ice cream.  He has a grandfather with a huge collection of ice cream freezers and the idea that his peanut butter ice cream is prizeworthy.   Kyle and Caleb probably know all about that, but the rest of the community seems to have only the General’s braggadocio for proof.   They say, the proof is in the pudding (or the ice cream) but it takes a timely invitation to win the prize.

Other birthdays—milestones to be sure—have been celebrated discreetly.  A person does not like too much the limelight.  Champions with gardening on their mind can think about starting broccoli plants on the 25th through the 27th.  Linda from over at the Plant Place in Norwood says they need about eight weeks to be ready  from seed to the garden.  The seed packets say to harden the plants off when they are six to eight inches tall and plant out in the garden after the danger of frost has passed.  That is early May in Champion!  Everyone will have to make his own decision about when to plant and what.  Certainly when the time is right Linda will have plenty of broccoli and cabbage and all thoses other wonderful plants for Champion gardens.  Meanwhile,  some will be glad for rain and snow on all that manure spread in the garden already.

Linda got herself in quite a situation at the Fortnight bridge game the other night.  In concert with the Champion player,  she outscored, by 190 points, oponents from Vera Cruz and Brushy Knob who were the winners of the rubber.   It took sixteen hands to play the two games (two games is a rubber) and the hour ran late.   Keen defensive play can be every bit  as exhilirating as playing the hand.  She won the quarters which, in this instance, was the low money and the host won the nickles with the high score overall.  Perhaps some real winter weather will find more friends together playing cards.  Several will be willing to drop minor responisbilites, that is responsiblitlies of minor import, at the drop of a hat for a good bridge game or “pitch” as played by Champion rules over in the game room at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square in downtown Champion.   A few members of the Skyline VFD Auxiliary gathered in the conference room there on Saturday afternoon to make some preliminary plans for the annual chili supper.This year’s quilt is a queensize beauty, hand pieced by Esther Wrinkles and machine quilted.   This will be one of those future family heirlooms.  All the proceeds from the quilt go to benefit the fire department to help with the expenses of keeping the community safe.   Some good photos were taken of the quilt and it will be on view at Henson’s Store for inspection.

January is called the Wolf Moon and the month itself is called ‘the door to the year.’  Champions fling it open wide with welcome for whatever may come.  Love and Gratitude for the beauty of the place, for family and friends and for those dear ones passed are the prevalent expressions.  The Eighth of January is a particualrly cheerful January song and that is the way it is all through the month in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!