Having spent three of the last four days on The Mountain, with another round set for tomorrow, Deb and I took a genuine break and stayed close to “home” today. Not that we confined ourselves to the campsite or anything — we simply pulled the plug on ambition and abandoned urgency.

Friday I had a chance to briefly handle a Stihl chainsaw, a newer (and slightly smaller) version of what I owned many years ago. It’s another one of those indispensable tools, standard equipment for the kind of work we’re doing (and will do), so this afternoon we paid a visit to the “saw shop” at Miller Hardware in Harrison.

Score another pleasant retail experience. We were helped by a sharp young man — a friendly country boy and lifelong resident of The Ozarks. He patiently answered every question we had and, typical of locals with whom we’ve done business, showed genuine interest in our making the right decision.

With that mission accomplished, we continued southeast to the neighboring town of Bellefonte and Friend Orchards Farm Market. We’d driven past the place dozens of times, beginning in mid-May and as recently as yesterday. We always said, as we breezed on by, that we really oughta stop and check it out.

Today, at last, we did.

Family-owned Friend Orchards has been growing apples and peaches here in Boone County for 45 years, its humble market sited well away from Harrison’s commercial district. The store offers not only fruit but farm-fresh eggs, local honey and a variety of other other produce when it’s in season.

Recently we learned of “Arkansas Black Apples,” an object of considerable regional pride. By reputation a tart-sweet variety, they become available in November and keep a long time in cold storage, turning almost black when they’re at their sweetest. Friend Orchards had ’em, so we bought a few to throw them in the back of Ernie’s fridge.

We also picked up jars of clover honey and dill pickles, as well as a bag of home-dried apple rings for snacking tomorrow on The Mountain.

When I sit down to write about these things — a walk in the woods, a trip to a hardware store or perusing a farm market — it’s obvious to me how all of this fits. Everything is coming together.

On this cold December evening, listening to Ernie’s furnaces purr, our American Life feels just right.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB