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EDINBURGH—April 21, 2014

Seeing the sights in Champion could take just a few minutes, all day, or a life-time depending upon the way a body goes about it.  Robert Louis Stevenson said that the journey is better than the arrival.  The journey is full of optimism and these days Champion is all about optimism.

First there were mushrooms, now there are hummingbirds, and now some people are topping off the refrigerant in their air conditioners.  Linda says potato planting is still good on the 24th and 25th.   Add the glorious flowering trees and shrubs to this list and the ‘spring-deniers’ are sure to be enlightened.  Get Linda’s Almanac at The Plant Place in Norwood, look at it on the bulletin board at Henson’s Downtown G&G or look at the top of the page at   Get out and enjoy spring like the birders do.   A bunch of them including Mary Beth and Clark Shannon, Janet and Sandy Chapin, Paul Clark, Carol Tharp, Shelby Squirrel, Rick Brischetto and a number of others took a birding trip to Welch Springs, Devil’s Well (sinkhole), the Current River State Park and Round Spring. Reports are that they saw 58 bird species, including a bald eagle, a red shouldered hawk on nest, a black vulture on nest in a pocket on the cliff wall, and a lone coot on the lake at the state park.  It sounds like a wonderful adventure and certainly the pictures on the internet were of some smiling people doing what they enjoy–Champions.

News out of Denlow indicates that Wayne Anderson was quite the hero during the Denlow Cemetery spring-cleaning last week. Working on the theory that the absence of anything bad is indeed the same as something good, he maneuvered his mowing machine with deft accuracy and made short work of the task at hand, knocking over no walls or monuments, and going through no fences or down any steep grades to the highway.  Bravo!  (Thank you, General, for the report.)  Wayne has kinfolks in Scotland whom he has yet to meet.  One could very well be Nicola Anderson.  She is the only woman gardener on the Princes Street Garden staff.  After taking her degree twenty-seven years ago, she worked her way up into various high profile gardens in sports stadiums and for some while with the Glasgow municipality.  She has been in the Royal Gardens here in Edinburgh for six years now.  At the Gardener’s Cottage she took time from applying bone meal to the roses to open a gardening book to identify for passers by the “Fritillaria—frillary.”  It is an Alpine bulb with a striking configuration.  It is to be divided every four years and must be kept in certain conditions when it is out of the ground owing to its unpleasant odor.  Nicola comes from an academic family.  Her mother is a pediatrician and her father a world renowned professor of languages.  He speaks fifteen languages, some ancient, and writes comparative texts.  He lives in Rome.  Her sisters are both in Edinburgh—one a professor of English at The University and the other, a noted psychologist.  Nicola says that of the bunch she is the happy one–working outside and seeing things grow.  She is planning a trip to the States in a couple of years looking to go to New England and New Orleans.  Champion would be a good stopover in between where she could become acquainted with some other charming Andersons.

The quaint Gardener’s Cottage looks very much like the cottage that Taegan Krider received as an early birthday present.  She will probably plant some flowers around it.  Taegan is in prekindergarten at Skyline.  Other students enjoying their birthday soon will be Haley Wilson, a fifth grader, celebrating on the 23rd.  Kindergartener Shelby Wilson has hers on the 24th.  Eli Johnson is also in prekindergarten and his birthday is on the 28th.  Isaam Creed is in the fourth grade and has the 29th for his birthday.  Taegan shares her birthday with Ryan Sandberg a seventh grader on the 30th.   Chante Michaud visits Champion occasionally on a Sunday.  She is about ten now and has her birthday on the 27th.  To back up a little bit, Ms. Myrtle Harris had her 85th birthday on April 17th.  She has a much younger sister named Kathy, and they are both big fans of the bluegrass and can be found most Thursday evenings over at Vanzant.  A new friend has promised to sing a song for her there one day.  It is novelty song from the 1950’s. All the live music in the big city reminds a wanderer of her country home.

J.C. Owsley has a big white mule on loan from some good friend.   He claims that in his younger cowboy days common sense took a back seat to excitement.   ‘Dot’ is a large mule—large enough to make J.C. look like an ordinary size person.  It only when you are inside a building with him that you realize that he must be going on seven foot tall.  Anyway, with good luck he will trailer Dot down to Champion from Cross Timbers for one of the trail rides or wagon train outings.  Diane Wilbanks has shared the Schedule of Rides of the West Plains Wagon Club. She said that there would be a plowing event down in Arkansas during April and then April 28th -May 3rd  Jim and Judy Cantrell of Mansfield will host a ride.  For more information about it call 417—924-3702. Bud Hutchison’s Spring trail ride is set for May 7th.  They will take out of Champion and go somewhere and then come back.  For more information call Bud at 683-4864.

Good fortune sometimes puts people together with friends in high places.  These friends actually had tickets to the high places which happened to be for the Public Astronomy Evening at the Royal Observatory.  It is atop Blackford Hill in the south east part of the city where it has been since 1896.  Three miles away, its previous location on Calton Hill is now called The City Observatory.  It was established there in 1785 by The University of Edinburgh and moved when the city lights and smog became an impediment.  The air has been cleaned up since homes are no longer heated with coal, and though the light pollution is an issue, the work goes on.  A tall, handsome young Dutchman, an astronomer, gave a lecture and power point demonstration of the night skies identifying the constellations that can be seen in the Northern hemisphere.  A lovely young Glaswegian (from Glasgow), an astrophysicist, spoke of the nature of heavenly bodies and their composition.  She had small chunks of meteorites to examine.  They are the oldest things around, she said.  The tour included a close up look at the 30” telescope that was put in place in 1926, together with the ingenious workings of the great copper domes that rotate and open. This part of the tour was conducted by a gentleman named Randall Scot who led the group up the 90 steps to the dome where he explained how starlight is reflected in the 30” mirror, then how it is reduced, concentrated, and spectrographed to make it visible.  It is eye opening to consider the technology of the day when he first entered the field of astronomy and that of today.  He has kept up with it and is every bit as excited about it as when he first began.  On May 24th he will celebrate fifty years of employment at The Royal Observatory.  Those 90 steps daily have kept the gentleman spry.  Star gazing has kept him smiling.

Come on down to the bottom of several hills, where country lanes meet and the pavement ends (or begins) on the wide, wild and wooly banks of Old Fox Creek.  Sit out on the spacious veranda and enjoy one of the world’s truly beautiful places—Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

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