The Recreation of the Historic Emporium over on the North side of the Square has been enjoying brisk business as is evidenced by the condition of the parking lot.  Frozen ruts of mud and ice give it a rollercoaster kind of feeling, but the pavement is dry and Champions do not seem to have been overly inconvenienced by the weather.   The tallest stump in Champion is dramatic in the snow.

Some ‘back’ roads are just now becoming navigable and then just between freezes as the muddy slush hardens up again and becomes first crunchy then slick.  What a luxury to be well stocked and secure with no need to go wandering about.  When the grand children come bounding through the doors with their racket and snowy boots leaving puddles everywhere, some old grandparents are just pleased that they come at all.  There will be plenty of time to clean up after they have gone and meanwhile the commotion and laughter is a great pause in the tranquility.  Endless cups of hot chocolate and “because we like this kind!” as an excuse for not having the marshmallow variety, plus wet gloves and mittens scorching on the wood stove keep the old folks hopping.  Exhausted parents sip their coffee in silence, glad to have a break, looking forward to school starting up again.  The uncluttered front yard, once a placid undisturbed sheet of white, now transformed in to a chaotic plot of snow dogs, snow horses/unicorns, snow dragons, snow men and ladies and snow chickens will be a reminder of the day’s romp.  A thoughtful son-in-law makes sure the wood box is full and hauls out the ashes, fills the bird feeders and takes out the compost.  Soon enough they are all gone again, leaving not too much of a mess behind and some contented old folks happy to resume their quiet routine and happy to have been included in the lives of their busy children.   “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”

A sweet story gleaned from the internet was written by Carolyn Nunn Harvey.  She said, “Sometime last fall, around Thanksgiving, I lost my wedding ring which, unnoticed, slipped off my finger while I was doing my outside chores without gloves on. I searched for it in vain, and even bought a metal detector to help locate it. No luck. Then today, a ray of sunlight shining through the window of a chicken shed into a nest box at exactly the right time and angle, glittered on a mostly- buried fragment of metal and caught my attention. There it was! Didn’t take but a second to get it back on my finger, where hopefully it will remain another 33 years! What a lucky day!”  More good news came on-line as The General expressed his gratitude to Deborah Barker for having made a Valentine’s huckleberry pie.  He said, “That this is the first huckleberry pie I’ve ever had and it is delicious!”  He is a lucky man.  The Thursday night Vanzant pot-luck and bluegrass jam was cancelled for February 19th.  The General did not want his many musical friends to jeopardize their safety in the hard winter weather.  Chances are good that the 26th will be fine for the regular musical Thursday.   Saturday, the 28th, is set aside for a community benefit pie supper and auction for Beverly Emery.  Dinner will be served at 5:30 and the auction will start at 7:00.  The Vanzant Community Building gets a lot of good use and hopes are that the weather will cooperate to allow for this lovely community gesture.

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together, there is something you must always remember: you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think, but the most important thing is, even if we’re apart, I’ll always be with you.  Happy Birthday,” said A.A. Milne.  He was born in 1882 and lived until 1956.  A prekindergarten student at Skyline School has her birthday on February 27th.  Her name is Mattalynn Hutsell.  Frankie Proctor will miss his birthday.  It is on the 29th of February and we are not having one of those this year.  Beatrice’s Dad, Leopold, up in Stroudsburg, PA will celebrate on the second of March.   Sixth grader Shaelyn Sarginson and resource teacher, Mrs. Barker (huckleberry pie), share the third for their birthday.  Linda up at The Plant Place in Norwood and Krenna Long of Norwood North, both celebrate on the fifth.  The sixth is the special day for kindergarten student Rylee Sartor.  Happy birthday to all you brave, strong, smart people.

If Cletus Upshaw were still with us he could probably fill Diane Wilbanks in on some history of her place.   He knew stories about every nook and cranny, every hill and holler, and he is sorely missed.   The Wilbanks’ driveway was once called the Vera Cruz Road.  Diane says they have a new metal detector and have found a Civil War fox hole.  She is looking forward to spending some time in the Douglas County Museum and to some research time in the Court House to fill in the blanks.  It will be her good luck to meet Cinita Brown who knows the country well.  It is the good luck of the community to have new neighbors like Diane and Jerry.  They will be the couple in the wagon behind the pretty white mules when the next wagon train rolls through Champion.  She says that the first organized ride of the West Plains Wagon Club will be in June.   Meanwhile, there will be lots of good opportunities to get together.  The Skyline VFD Chili Supper will be an ideal time to meet up with old and new friends.   It is coming up in just a couple of weeks.  All the enforced isolation brought on by the weather will give way to the “Good bye Cabin Fever” party that this event provides.  A bowl of good chili and some blackberry cobbler or peach pie will be just the thing.   The music by Backyard Bluegrass, Lead Hill Players and Whetstone will be a relief from winter’s dreariness.  Toes will tap. Word has it that the silent auction will be better than ever this year.  Ms. McCleary is a magician with it and is accumulating some great items! In lieu of a quilt this time, the big drawing will be for a fancy cast garden bench.  It looks like a park bench, like it would accommodate an old couple holding hands or a young couple pitching woo.  There is a 42 inch fire pit that goes along with it.  It has a screen and tools to work the fire.  Someone will have an enhanced outdoor living space when the climate allows for such as that.  Check it out at Henson’s Grocery and Gas in Downtown Champion.    This week members of the Skyline Volunteer Fire District will be adding pie making ingredients to their shopping lists and the dessert table will reflect the appreciation the community has for the Fire Department that helps to keep us safe.

Every square foot of ground has its history going all the way back.  “Back to what?” inquires one.  “Back to when?”  An interesting point of view attributed to an anonyms Native American says, “Treat the earth well.  It was not given to you by your parents.  It was loaned to you by your children.  We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors.  We borrow it from our Children.”  Young farmers and stewards of the land are doing a good job of preserving a wholesome way of life for their young ones, but it is hard work and they have chores to do even when the snow is flying in Champion….Looking on the Bright Side!