The second week in April seems to have a theme running through it over the years.  Last year this article began:  “April 9, 2012–In Champion the gardener waits for the harvest and has patience for it and like James said, he is patient while waiting for the early and later rain. Some particular Champion husbandmen would like that later rain to come on early.  It seems dry, so some are watering and mulching and all are paying attention.   James is the same guy who said, “Sing if you are happy.”  The previous year: “April 11, 2011–Champions are pleased for the rain, pleased for the good company of friends and family visiting, pleased for the progress in their gardens and various other enterprises.  Overall the Champion neck of the woods is quite a pleasing place full of the glories of spring and happy people.”  The year before:  “April 12, 2010– Champions, alert to the inevitability of change, welcome it with the same ease and grace with which the seasons come and go.  Even so.  Let it be.  The genuine heart of Champion does not change–the part that acknowledges the importance of good neighbors and good deeds and that part that recognizes and celebrates the beauty of the place.”  It just on and on like that.  The second week of April every year seems to be rife with acknowledgement of the pleasures of natural beauty, pleasures of family, friends, and community.  Champion!

Bostonian Charley Burlile was down this way on a rendezvous with his Dad and sister at her place over near Vera Cruz last week.  He was most complimentary to the area saying that it had been a long time since he and been here at this time of the year and he had forgotten just how glorious the place is as the fields green from hill to hill and how distant and pleasant the views can be before the foliage fills in.  He probably would not ever have wandered into the place had his sister not married Tim Scrivner all those years ago.  He thinks his brother-in-law gets too much press but seems to like him well enough.  He was happy to report that his home place up in Massachusetts had not suffered ill effects from the big hurricane Sandy last fall.  They did not even lose power up in Boston.  He did say that when Manhattan floods like it did, it does cause people to think that climate change, whatever the cause, is not really a myth.  He was also curious to know if Herman Melville is still a favorite author in these parts.  He can be pleased to know that his suggestion of the Norton Critical Edition of Moby Dick graces certain Champion shelves and has a bookmark on page 47 where the Sermon is being presented.  Between gardening, construction, sewing projects, grandchildren,  bridge games, correspondence, and a certain amount of daydreaming, the Champion hopes to have made considerable progress in the book so has to be conversant about it if Boston Charley makes it back for a summer visit.  His family has been seen at the Skyline VFD Picnic in the past.  Life seems as fast paced and busy in the country as it is in town.  Reckon?

“Fast paced” does not do justice to the description of things when the General makes it over to Champion.  He brings excitement with him and ramrodded a bunch of his blood kin, including brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, grandchildren, in an extended episode of mountain climbing, kite flying, music making and fish frying.  Champion had just been relieved of an influx of his mishpocheh (city girls who blushed and hurried home to be with their handsome farm boys).   Dillon Watts was one of those kite flyers.  He was also a turkey hunter.  At the time of his visit he was still a ‘youth’ and was happy to get his turkey while he was visiting on Grandmother’s farm.  He has taken his old banjo and gone back to Tennessee now and will be celebrating his birthday on the 12th of the month.  Morgan Whitacre is a sixth grader at the Skyline R2 School.  He shares his birthday, the 14th, with a Champion favorite Bob Berry.  Bob was the automotive go-to guy for Esther Wrinkles and for many in the area around Gentryville for a long time.   Look for him and beautiful Mary in a snazzy Studebaker of an early 50’s vintage out and about at area festivals and gatherings this spring and summer.  On April 15th Skyline prekindergarten student Wyatt Lakey will join a group of distinguished people who have ‘tax day’ as their birthday.  Some of them are Vivian Floyd of Rogersville, George G. Jones of Stockton, D. Mike Cline of Seymour, Kathryn Coffman of Mountain Grove who will be 95, Leonardo Da Vinci of Italy (born 1452), Roy Clark of Hee Haw fame, Bessie Smith–the Empress of the Blues and Nikita Khrushchev.  So Wyatt, you have some interesting astro-twins.  Enjoy your birthday!  Enjoy them all.  Some sage said, “Do not regret growing older.  It is a privilege denied to many.”

A country girl swings on the front porch and listens to the sounds moving through the valleys.   It is mysterious to hear a motor approach and move on without ever seeing the vehicle or an invisible airplane low and loud then fading and distant and gone.   A romantic heart can identify her sweetheart’s truck two hollows away and can be certain by the time he gets to the second low water crossing that he is on his way.  In a subtle shift of the wind the sound is gone again.  She waits.  She wanders out to the garden barefoot on the warming soil not even looking up to find the flight of turkey vultures crisscrossing her plot with their many swooping shadows.  She sings, “I’ll be waiting on the hillside for the day that you call, on the sunny side of the mountain where the rippling waters fall.”  Then she figures she will do some raking and shaping of some garden beds to ready for planting.  Linda’s Almanac from over at The Plant Place in Norwood says that the 12th and 13th will be good days for planting crops that bear their yield above ground.  She will work some manure and ashes into the rows and be ready when the time is right to plant.  It is hard to wait sometimes.  Spring seems like it is here but some are not sure in spite of the blooming trees and shrubs.   The sound mysteries of the mountains can carry a din away on a quiet breeze and obscure the noise of an approaching visitor.  She could turn around and find him standing there any second –as silently as spring.

Skyline VFD Auxiliary President, Betty Dye, called members Monday morning to remind them of the scheduled meeting of the group on Tuesday at ‘the store.’  She means the meeting room in the Recreation of the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion.  It is also known as Henson’s Downtown G & G.   It is the cultural and social hub of the area as well as an excellent purveyor of many of the necessities of home and farm.  Most any day of the week a person can find two or more yokels passing the time in the meeting room.  They will be shooting the breeze, catching up on local events and expounding their fair and balanced observations of the world situation as it relates to Champion.   Air your views over a cup of coffee in the reading room or out on the porch where you will get a bucolic view across Lonnie Krider Memorial Drive of the broad and wooly banks of Old Fox Creek, out past the parade grounds under the century sentry walnut trees and the little church.  Drink it in—it is burgeoning Spring in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!