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Friday afternoon an old Champion finally decided to get her canna lily bulbs dug up for the season and set about to do that.   Many of the garden edibles had made a fairly poor showing, but the cannas were planted late and close to the sprinkler and performed beautifully.  The two overflowing wheelbarrows of bulbs drying out for winter storage are not food, but can be traded for food and so the space they occupied with such elegance was not wasted.  The work was pleasant and engrossing on such a warm and sunny day, so wonderfully quiet in the valley with no little cars whizzing by and no big city busses rumbling past.   After a while she began to hear quiet voices and stood up to see what might be the source.  Bud Hutchison and five mounted companions were riding south toward Champion.  They were going at a relaxed pace and were bunched up close enough together to allow for relaxed conversation.   Their exchanges and banter may have covered any number of subjects and were indistinguishable to the gardener, but to see convivial friends traveling so easily together in such a tranquil setting spoke directly to the heart of the Champion, so glad to be home.

The many Veterans’ Day celebrations and parades around the Nation were well motivated and well produced, bringing the annual awareness of the general population to the year round service of their countrymen.    Both the Veterans’ Hospital and the main Veteran’s Administration Office in Manhattan were swamped by the hurricane that blew thru New York City.   One hundred patients had already been moved to other Veterans’ hospitals when the storm hit.  The damage will take a long time to repair and the three million dollar MRI machine will have to be replaced.   Veterans in the area and around the country have stepped up to help their comrades in this difficult situation.  It is the way they have bravely stood up on behalf of all the Nation’s citizens every time they have been asked  since the country was founded.   They have some Love and Gratitude due them and some help.  They are Champions.

Esther Wrinkles says that her Christmas cactuses are just beginning to bloom.  She has a nice collection, including some old ones that she has had for years and some smaller ones that she has acquired fairly recently.  As her older plants are all pink,  she was hoping that one of the new ones would turn out to be red, but it is looking like it will be a dark pink.  Some of her friends will get over to the Plant Place in Norwood soon to see if Linda has a nice blooming red one for her.   Flowers and music seem to boost a person’s spirit and it is very clear that so much of healing has to do with attitude.  It has been four months since her injury and her recovery seems slow to her who is so accustomed to being very active.  Esther keeps a good attitude though and Thanksgiving will soon be here and all the excitement of friends and family will have her lifted up and fortified more so.   Friends and family—the best reasons to be Thankful!

This time of the year the population swells in these hills.  The visitors are all dressed in orange and drive very slowly.  They bring lots of revenue to the area and take lots of deer away with them.  The local processing plants are already overwhelmed.   Some hunters are so good at it that they can harvest much more game than they can possibly eat.  The really nice ones are pleased to share with their friends and their friends will have more winter food security which makes them naturally more pleasant people.  Sharing the Harvest is a great program that allows hunters to donate their kill to the local Food Bank, which does good work in feeding people who find themselves in need.  In most cases the processor will donate the labor as well.  The hunting stories make good listening:  “It was just at daylight and it came walking right to me.”  “It was heavier than it looked and it took a lot of dragging to get it out.”  “It made kind of a growling sound.  I never really got a look at it, but I was glad I had my pocket knife with me in case it turned out to be a bear.  Probably it was just the neighbor’s truck.  It kind of growls when he starts it every morning and there are two ridges and a draw between us and the way sound travels, it could have been a truck.”  It could have been a bear.   Sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you.

Young people seem to like their own birthday very much.  Old people do too, but for different reasons.   Champion, Rich Heffern, of Kansas City celebrates a birthday on the 15th and Elva Ragland on the 19th.  She just lives down the road and around the corner and down a hill and up one or two from Champion.   Elva shares her birthday with Gaven Keith, an eighth grader at Skyline.  Clifford Crain, a second grader will be eight on the 23rd and shares that day with the dotty grandmother of Seamus, Elizabeth, Zack and Ethan.  Eighth grader, Breanna Carroll, will be fourteen on the 24th and Waylin Moon will be twelve that day.  He is a sixth grader.   Faith Crawford will have her 6th birthday on the 26th and Jhonn Rhodes will be eight on the 30th.  He is a second grader this year.   Before long, these youngsters will be driving and voting and running the country.  It is good they are getting such a nice start in life in a quality rural school.  As the old folks look back on their dear school days with nostalgia and pride, they see that today’s youngsters at Skyline are in the middle of those formative years.  The Skyline R-2 School Foundation has been set up to boost the school along in important ways.  Everyone is welcome to participate:  Skyline School Foundation, Rt. 2 Box 486, Norwood, MO 65717.

The meeting room at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium over on the North side of the Square in Downtown Champion (Henson’s Downtown G&G) is the site of the meetings of the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary, the most recent being November 13th.   Auxiliary President Betty Dye reports that the Chili Supper Quilt, an original queen size beauty of pieced rectangles and squares is on display with tickets available for the drawing at the Chili Supper in early March.  There is plenty of time to support the wonderful little fire department that is such an essential part of the community.

Recent travels make Champions aware of the beauty of their place in the world.  As the trees drop their leaves, little cabins and home places come out of hiding to reveal a more densely populated area than might have been supposed in the more lush seasons.  New friends just across the Firth from the Kingdom of Fife say that Champion looks just like home to them too.  To the new friends Champions sing, “We’ll meet again.  Don’t know where.  Don’t know when.  But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day!”  Perhaps in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

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