Champions arose from their comfortable beds early on Monday morning and went out to inspect their rain gauges and varmint traps and to marvel at their good fortune.  It would seem that the dry spell is, for the moment, broken and there is every chance that this will turn out to be the growing season which will be remembered into distant decrepitude as having been the start of all the great ones.  “Don’t tell me 13 is an unlucky number!  Don-cha remember?   2013 was the year we ran out of fruit jars!“   It is a marvel that a person can fanaticize about a marital spat many years hence.  Champion!

A bunch of good citizens—community minded folks—got together Wednesday at the Skyline VFD fire-house/picnic grounds and began the process of getting things ready for the picnic.  The chief honcho deftly drug the brush hog around while his near neighbors weed ate and lawn mowed.  New neighbors, the Georges (Joseph and Salina, Tristan, Harrison and Nickolas), joined in with Ms. McCleary, Chris Dailey and others to scrub to a bright shine all the cooking equipment.  When fourteen people get together to do something, some things get done.  They will be doing it again this Wednesday and, most likely, each Wednesday until the picnic is over and then maybe the following Wednesday just for the fun of it.  Anyone in the fire district or anyone driving by is welcome to join in.  The work starts at 5:00 p.m. and goes on until quitting time.  The reward is that good feeling of being part of something worthwhile.  All the rural fire departments are made up of volunteers.  Some fight fires and do the dangerous work for which they train so rigorously and some work on the sidelines doing the other important things that have to be done to keep the vital outfit operating.  A temporarily overwrought individual was heard to say one time a few years back, “This is not the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department Picnic Society!”    It turns out, that for a few weeks in mid-summer every year, it is.  Wednesdays at five—come join the fun.

“The Black Kettle Ride” by Cinita Brown will be summer reading for one Champion.  The story has been preserved as it was printed in The Douglas County Herald starting on November 7, 2002, and ending on April 17, 2003.  Each page has been carefully cut out of the paper and glued onto ruled notebook paper and archived with dates and references in one of the seven thick notebooks of Mrs. Lorene Johnston, which are currently on loan to The Champion News.  It is an honor to be allowed access to a person’s private papers as the things that are deemed important enough to be conserved give great insight into the character and disposition of the individual.  This promises to be an excellent adventure.  The second entry in this first notebook is comprised of all the clippings (April 5, 2001) of the story of a Springfield youth who was rescued from Brown’s Cave.   The 16 year old boy (Joseph Brown) was half a mile deep in the cave and rescuers had to crawl, to wade deep water and mud, and traverse slippery slopes to find him.  He was in shock, suffering hypothermia and a compound fracture of the leg.   That was an extraordinary story that involved volunteers and technicians from Goodhope Fire Department, Cox-Ava Ambulance, Cox Air Care, Ava Fire Department and Skyline Fire Department.  It looks like Mrs. Johnston’s interest in local affairs will prove to be an educational journey if the first random opening of the treasure trove is representative of the whole. The summer will go quickly, starting with “Chapter 1, Christmas Day 1844.”

Linda’s Almanac from over at The Plant Place in Norwood says that the 25th through the 27th are good days for planting beets, carrots, radishes, turnips, peanuts and other root crops.   They are also good for planting melons, cucumbers, pumpkins and other vine crops that can be planted now.  The almanac says they will yield well.  Those three days are good for transplanting as well as good days for weaning, hunting, fishing, and pruning to encourage growth.  This full moon is called The Thunder Moon and a person born in July has the ruby for a birth stone.  (There will probably be no shortage of rubies in the life of the royal baby about to be born on the hottest day in the UK in years.   Congratulations in advance from the Champion News!)  There has certainly been some thrilling thunder in recent nights, and compensation for not being able to see the enormous full moon comes in the rain gauge.   Farmers and gardeners are happy.  The rain has made earth working easier for people who enjoy spending their time with shovels.  It might be a good time to rework some of the roads.  The men from the County Shed at Drury stay busy and the list of projects the residents of the area have in mind is long.  The process of prioritizing this work is probably more complicated than the average rural person with the rutted drive can imagine.  One old Champion is complaining that it is too wet to mow.  When it gets dry enough to mow he will complain about having to mow.

A new lease on life is an expression used when one begins to realize success after a series of failures.  Things look dismal and then get much better.  The expression would seem to indicate that a person is just renting life– having temporary possession of it with the responsibility for taking care of it.  An old farmer has some good advice about life:  “Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.   Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.  Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.  A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.  Words that soak into your ears are whispered….not yelled.  Meanness don’t jes’ happen overnight.  Forgive your enemies;   it messes up their heads.  Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.  It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.  You cannot unsay a cruel word.  Most of the stuff people worry about ain’t never gonna happen anyway.  Don’t judge folks by their relatives.”  The old farmer has lots of advice.  A migrant farmer advises, “Show your enemy the road to reconciliation.”  A Champion advises, “When it is good, say so.”  So Champions are happy with their lease on life.  It is good and they are grateful.

The always charming proprietor of the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square reports brisk sales of tickets for the lovely quilt on display there.  It is a queen sized beauty, brilliantly white and cross stitched with the “Tree of Life.”   Examine the fine workmanship and get your name in the pot.  While you are there, register your good advice or, if you must, your pithy complaint, out on the spacious veranda.  You will be in excellent company, hobnobbing with the locals, catching up on the news, watching the grass grow.  It might be a good time to sing, “Singing in the rain, just singing in the rain!  What a wonderful feeling, I’m happy again!”  In Champion!—Looking on the Bright Side!