Sunday’s rain was just what Champions needed.  One of the TV weather people said the neighborhood is in better shape this year going into the growing season than it was last year.  Better is good.  Champions are glad and optimistic by nature so, “Let it rain, let it pour.  Let it rain just a whole lot more.”  It would be just fine with Champions up in the Northern suburbs if they had to go the long way around to get down to the store.  It has been some years since Clever Creek was too deep to ford there just before it joins the Fox.   There is no time to lament how it used to be.  Champions are busy figuring out how it is now and how best to work with it, ’it’ being the weather.

Kalyssa was surprised to hear that she had been on the radio.  She was not tuned in on Saturday morning when K. Z. Perkins from over at the community radio station in Cabool played an hour-long excerpt of the music and fun of the chili supper benefit for the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department back on March 2nd.   K.Z. had gone around with her microphone that night and talked to several people and when she asked the little girl her name, the five year old replied, “Kalyssa, K-a-l-y-s-s-a!”  Maybe she will grow up to be a radio personality.  Ms. Perkins did an excellent job of capturing the music and the feel of the evening and of editing it down to just an hour.  Steve Moody’s tribute to Esther Wrinkles was moving to hear again.  It is always a gift to see how the community rallies around a good cause.  It takes a lot of work to make the good things happen.  The radio station volunteer spoke eloquently from recent personal experience about the good works of local rural volunteer firefighters putting themselves between danger and the people they protect.  Champions!  Jeanie Maddox had to be out of town due to an illness in the family or she would have been at the chili supper.  E-mail from her said, “I’m so glad the towel sets sold as well as they did.  I’m glad to share my talent and help the fire department for all the hard work they do and help with the expenses to do this hard work.  Sounds like you had a good turn-out.  We sure hated to miss it.  We enjoy visiting with all and hearing the music.”  Jeanne is making arrangements to put some of her handiwork in at Henson’s Downtown G & G.  She said, “I’m so glad that Champion store is still open.  I remember it from way back in the 50’s when I was a little girl and going there.  We would usually get a bottle of pop, orange or grape–many years ago.”  Jeanie says that she is ready for spring and warmer temperatures but, “that means mowing to keep up with!”  It is always something.

The something for Mrs. Elizabeth Mastrangelo Brown was her birthday on the 16th.  That was Saturday and a good day to have a party.  It is always a treat to run into the charming Mrs. Brown with her warm sweet smile.  Myla Sarginson, second grader at Skyline School, was smiling about her birthday on the 18th and the next day Katelyn Souder celebrated with her seventh grade friends.  One of those Champion Skyline Volunteer Firefighters has his birthday on the 23rd.  He went to the Skyline School and had some adventures up in the attic behind some ceiling tiles or so the story goes.  It was a very long time ago.   A notation in the community birthday calendar that Elva Ragland is having one on the 23rd turns out to be an error.  Her birthday is not until November and she is not anxious to be getting older than she has to any sooner than necessary.  She has had a cold but is starting to feel better which makes her Champion friends happy.   She had ventured out to the Vanzant music on Thursday night and said there was a good crowd there and about 16 musicians playing.  The ‘Elva’ whose birthday is the 23rd of March turns out to be one of The General’s lovely daughters.  The lovely part comes from her dear Mother, and she has fortunately been spared many of the paternal attributes which could have represented stumbling blocks the size of giant opossums over which she would have had to scramble for success.  She has made it anyway, and is quite a Champion in spite of having grown up a Vanzantian.   A certain Ms. Pennington of Tar Button Road fame celebrates that day as well (the 23rd), though some of her friends tried to start her party a month early.  She is a good sport though and would be happy to celebrate for a solid month any time.

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library is a great program for a rural community.  It provides a new, age appropriate book every month to any child in Douglas County free of charge.  The program addresses children from birth to age 5 years and is an excellent way to get a good start on loving to read.   One Champion who loved to read as a child told her sister that if she would take her turn washing the dishes one night so that she could finish reading a book she was enjoying, she would do the dishes for a year.  Her sister took her up on it and made her stick to her promise.   That Champion still loves to read and now has three grandchildren enrolled in the DP Imagination Library.  Applications for the program can be found at Henson’s Grocery & Gas in Champion.  It is a free program for the community which has been sponsored by the Skyline R-2 School Foundation.  The Foundation has a mission to support the wonderful little rural school and it is a way for any community member to be able to influence in a positive way the survival of a great local institution.  Mail those donations to Skyline R-2 School Foundation, Rt. 2 Box 486, Norwood, MO 65717.   Some people like to give a one-time good sized chunk of money to take advantage of charitable tax deductions on their income tax, and some people like to give a little at a time as they can afford it on no set schedule.  Several good contributions have been made by residents over in the Hunter Creek area lately and those folks over there can feel pretty good about themselves.  They are Champions of a good cause.

Linda’s Almanac from over at The Plant Place in Norwood informs that the 20th to the 22nd will be the best planting days for above-ground crops, especially peas, beans, cucumbers and squash where climate is suitable.  Plant seedbeds and flower gardens.  It is a good question about ‘where the climate is suitable.’  These days it is anybody’s guess.  The days many are waiting for are the 27th through the 29th. Those are the best days for planting root crops and for transplanting.  That means that the potatoes will finally go in the ground and then all those wonderful things that are going to get done “as soon as the potatoes are planted” will get done.  Maybe.  Linda has some great broccoli ready to transplant.  It is the Packman variety and it produces a nice uniform head and continues to produce smaller heads throughout the season.  She specializes in perennials, and spring bedding plants and a couple of different kinds of bridge.  That is a card game with many, many rules.  A copy of her monthly almanac can be found there in Norwood or on-line at or on the bulletin board at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square in beautiful downtown Champion.  “Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain.”   If Old Fox Creek and The Clever are full to overflowing, a person will have to come into town from the West down WW Highway.  If you are there at just the right time of day, you can see that the sun really does rise in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!