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As the fog rolls down and through the valleys, Champions are once again amazed at the beauty of the place they are fortunate to call home.   Colors change, new contours emerge and the sycamores stand out white against the darker hills.  There is no need to go roaming.   “The trouble with weather forecasting is that it is right too often for us to ignore it and wrong too often for us to rely on it.”  A guy named Patrick Young made this observation in reference Groundhog Day.   Punxsutawney Phil up at Gobbler’s Knob in Jefferson County, Pennsylvania has been popping out of his hole on February 2nd every year since 1887.   People gather there to see first-hand if the groundhog sees his shadow which indicates that there will be six more weeks of winter weather in store.  Some are saying that the weather is so strange and crazy lately that Phil and other historic indicators are no longer of any use.  On a sunny 60⁰ morning in January there is reason enough to agree.

A daily visitor to the coffee bar at Henson’s Downtown G & G, celebrates his birthday on the first of February.  He was born in 1940 and travels with a little black dog.  Guess who.  Zack Alexander has his birthday that day too.  He is young and very handsome and much photographed.  He is the very spitting image of his good-looking grandmother.   Angie Heffern, Judy Parsons, Charlene Dupree, and Connie Grand share their birthday on Groundhog Day with Phil.  They were all born in different years and they are all beautiful ladies with talents, gifts and grace.  Zack Baker is an 8th grader at Skyline.   His birthday is the third and Angel Parks celebrates her day on the 6th.  She is a sixth grader.  Cowboy Jack went to the New East Dogwood School many long years ago.  His birthday is the 7thbut his friends will all pretend to have forgotten.  Joyce will probably say that he does not act his age anyway.

Many friends and family of Lorene Johnston gathered at the Denlow Cemetery on Monday to bid her farewell.  She grew up between Champion and Denlow in a rock house that her Dad built.  Her sister, Bonnie Mullins, said that the house cost their Dad $100.00 to build.  He tore down an old house that was on the property for the lumber and hauled the rocks out of Clever Creek, so all he had to buy was the nails and the cement.  The house has been well maintained and is standing still up on a high spot with a commanding view to the east and the west.  Lorene married Toney Johnston in 1952 and by 1958 they had a three year old son and a dairy farm over near Gentryville.  The family talked about how much the couple loved farming.  It was a beautiful morning up on the hill there at Denlow.  It was in the sixties and the sun shone brightly between some high dark clouds making the light race across the green fields below.  It is not an easy thing to say good bye to loved ones and friends, but when it has to be said, it could not be done in a prettier place on a more lovely day.  Look into the Champion School Reunion pictures at for some nice photos of Lorene.  Look there too for some great pictures of Denlow.

Email arrived at saying, “What a sweet sendoff for Ms. Wrinkles. I am grieving here in Austin as I feel like I knew her, thanks to your reporting of her citizenship and activities.  As the world loses this greatest generation, I hope our feet can grow to fill their boots—it’s a stretch, I think.”

The 25th of January was the birthday of Robert Burns, born 1796, 254 years ago.  He died at age 37, which seems quite young, though he left a great wonderful body of work behind and people around the world celebrate him on his day with traditional Scots suppers and music.   January 25, 1975 was the day Exer Hector died.  She was 62 and had just begun to really enjoy her life.  If it is a long life or a short life lived long ago or being lived now, it is a precious thing and more precious yet to be remembered well.  There is art in remembering well and it can be learned.  Choose the salient moments to recall and fill in with mental images that suit you.  There is no requirement for grief or for living in the past, but a reverence for those special ones makes this life more full.  Young Foster Wiseman was a lucky boy Sunday when he was able to sit in the pew between his grandmothers.  Foster is seven.  He will not forget these great ladies who love him so much if he lives to be 100.

Linda’s Almanac  from over at The Plant Place in Norwood says that the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th of February are good days to plant root cops, good days to transplant, good for planting seed beds, good days to prune to encourage growth and to apply organic fertilizer.  Perhaps the weather will cooperate and some young men will come by wanting to help out in the garden.   That may be just a day dream for the old folks who just get it done a little at a time.  If last year is a clue to what is in store for this garden season, some are planning to get everything in early and be prepared to protect against a late frost.  It is a gamble.  Linda is getting the Cole crops ready for gardeners and starting the perennials and herbs.

The movie “Groundhog Day” tells the story of a man who lives the same day over and over until he finally gets it right.  He learns empathy, compassion and humility and how to speak French and play the piano.  He winds up with the girl and they seem destined to live happily ever after.   “They say we’re young and we don’t know.  We won’t find out until we grow.  Well I don’t know if all that’s true, ‘cause you got me, and baby I got you!” In Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

“The Nation is celebrating patriotism this week with speeches, ceremonies, parades and”   That is how the printed form of the Champion article ended last week…with an unpunctuated ‘and’ dangling out in the air.  “And …and…What? “  That questioned appeared in the mailbox.  The rest of the sentence was, ”… frequent homages to the brilliant Constitution.  Love and Gratitude are order of the day in Champion—looking through a tear to the Bright Side.”

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