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Champions do not fret about the unsettled weather.  Having no recourse, they just take what comes their way and make the very best of it.  As the hummingbirds straggle in and the bees occupy the big walnut tree in force, Champions acknowledge the changing of the seasons yet again and have hardly anything but praise for the whole of creation.

A nice note arrived from Kenneth (Hovey) Henson the other day.  “Your story of Homer Akers’ wild driving brought back memories.  When Homer came up from behind, people would pull over and let him go flying around.  Beings that the roads were extremely dusty, Dad decided one day that he was going to give Akers a good dusting.  Driving fast or faster he wouldn’t let him get around.  Dad liked to make people laugh.  My brother and I thought it was funny to look back and see frustrated Akers trying to go around us.  Harley Brixey and Ed Sutherland were very amused when we went flying past their house in a fog of dust.  Homer had married into the family, but we never heard anything from them about this incident.”  It is always good to hear from Hovey and his friends and kinfolks back home (here) hope he will make it back to the school reunion this fall.  There is an old cowboy saying that says “You’re either raising dust or you’re eating it.”  It is easy for Champions to imagine how ‘full of it’ the air must have been back in those days.

The Wednesday Night Waltz was a popular tune long years ago.  These days Wednesdays are given over pretty much to trail riding.  Those fox trotters and others that ride and those that just watch them go by or just hear about the rides down at the store days later seem equally entertained though some do not have so many horse related chores as others.    Last Wednesday a group of about ten seasoned riders got together over at the Rippee Access with the idea that they would ride over past Brown’s Cave and around–about a five hour ride.  There are established trails all around this part of the country and any nice Wednesday can find a half a dozen or twenty-five riders out enjoying the countryside and the pleasant company.  Bud Hutchison will have a ride start up at Champion on May 9th that will wander over to Drury and around.  This is an annual affair and the outfit always seems to have a good time.  Bud was not on the trail to Brown’s Cave the other day.  He and Wilma were busy working on the redbud trees and the dogwoods that they take care of as a beautification project for their community.   Anyway, these ten or so riders crossed the creek there at Rippee and the water was not too deep, but plenty cold.  It brings to mind that old saying that water and truth are freshest at their source and so straight from the horse’s mouth comes this account.  Now this cowboy will tell you two or three times in a row that he has ridden probably a million miles and has never had anything like this happen to him before.  He also has the reputation of one who would not mislead a person but would be most willing to haul him a load.    All of that aside, it seems that they had forded Rippee and crossed a big field to come up on Bryant Creek about two miles from where they started.  The rains had filled the creek and it was running deep and swift.  A couple named Kate and Steve had crossed already and Charlie Curtis had gone on too.  Then came Joe and Wilma Hamby and they were moving across the stream steadily but slowly when Cowboy Jack on Rowdy came to the water’s edge.  Rowdy is a young horse, not too experienced, but he has an extravagantly long name and the potential to serve as a reliable mount for years to come and he had already carried the cowboy a fair portion of that million miles.    A person would have had to be there to figure out just how it happened that young Rowdy entered the water the way he did.  Maybe the proximity of the Hamby’s horses out in the creek or unease about the riders behind caused him to get just a little crosswise with the current and to lose his footing.  Down he went and the relentless current pummeled the steed so that he could not get his feet under him.  Under him, however, was Cowboy Jack!  The thrashing and splashing went on ceaselessly as the cowboy, rib deep (he is not real tall) in the icy stream, struggled to keep the horse’s head above the water.  The horse flailed and fought to get purchase with his front feet and finally did just before they both went down.  Charlie Curtis went back in the water to retrieve Jack’s floating saddlebags and said that he was thinking that he was probably going to have to go in the drink himself just as Rowdy recovered.  Soaked clear through, the cowboy mounted up and rode the two long cold miles back to the trail head.   There was a young lady there at the access pulling ‘smart weed’ to make a tea for her arthritis.  She helped the cowboy get Rowdy in the trailer and he needed the help.  He was so cold that he did not think about the set of insulated coveralls that he had behind the seat of his truck or the old coats back there.  When he finally made it home and opened the truck door, water ran out on the ground.  It did not take him long to get in the house to dry off and change clothes.  It took him days to get his saddle and gear dried out and cleaned up.  Butch Linder had arrived at the creek just as the excitement was over (Jack says he is always slow), but he has been laughing about it non-stop.  He said that Jack had taken his spring bath without the soap.  They say never ask a barber if you need a haircut, but it is ok to ask Butch on any Wednesday, because he closes up shop to ride.  The cowboys all know “You can’t drown your sorrows, they know how to swim.”  This is probably one of those stories that will be told over and over.  Maybe the next time it will not take so long.

Silvana Sherrill is a preschooler at Skyline.  She will be 5 on May first.  Third grader Madison Shearer will be 9 on the second.  Janet White will be 7 on May third.  She is in kindergarten.  Family and friends will help these girls celebrate their birthdays—merry as the Month of May!   They will know that their birthstone is the emerald and the Lilly of the Valley is the official flower of the month.  The full moon is called The Corn Planting Moon and Linda’s Almanac says that the third and fourth will both be good days to plant those above the ground crops.   Esther says, “Thunder in February—frost in May.”

Write your horse tales and send them to Champion Items, Rt. 2 Box 367, Norwood, MO  65717 or tell them out on the porch at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion.  There are some chairs out there were a person can just sit and talk and talk and talk.  Look for trail ride pictures at  Saddle up and hum the Wednesday Night Waltz on your way down to Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

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