Monday, Monday

The cold snap in northern Arkansas continues. Today we awoke to the coldest morning we’ve yet seen from the comfort of the bus — a bitter 22°F. Ernie’s systems were up to the chill, I’m glad to say, and we had no problems.

We headed east late this morning, making a couple of stops along the way. The first errand was dropping off a check for a guy who’d done work for us on The Mountain. He asked that we leave it with the receptionist at his regular job, with “the road department,” so that’s where we went — except, as it turned out, he doesn’t work for “the road department.”

He works for “the highway department.” State of Arkansas, not Marion County. A few miles farther east. No big deal.

Next we stopped at the home of the fellow who sold us the Ranger. As promised, he presented us with the buggy’s title and its OEM tool kit. The latter was still unopened and, to my surprise, included one item I thought we were going to have to buy — a hook-type spanner for adjusting the suspension. That bit of good fortune alone was worth the trip today.

We ended our drive, as usual, at Deb’s cousin’s cabin. Today’s his birthday, and the three of us had ourselves a nice low-key celebration.

The Mountain has a way of distracting me. Deb’s fallen under its spell, too. We arrived today with a list of things we wanted to accomplish — nothing pressing, really, simply the urge to be productive in some way.

That didn’t happen.

We can’t even claim that we were seduced by good weather — the air was cold and damp, the skies gray. Truth is, all we wanted to do was explore. We pulled the cover off The Ranger, fired it up and rolled down the road.

The area cleared by the backhoe handled last weekend’s heavy rains better than we’d expected. It was muddy, naturally, and more rocks were exposed on the surface, but we saw not a single washout. There were no gullies. We’re thrilled.

We eased downhill a ways to the property’s northeast corner, parked just off the road and waded into the brush. Satellite views show what looks like a wide cut that parallels the parcel’s eastern boundary — a trail blazed years ago, perhaps for horseback riding. We wanted to see if we could find it.

And we did, more or less. It was clear where the path had been but, like the cut we rode to the summit over a week ago, this one was clogged with vines, scrub and small trees. In its current state most of it isn’t easily walkable, much less rideable. We added it to our growing list of projects.

I did manage one productive thing today — using a GPS app designed for hiking and overlanding, I marked and recorded a handful of specific points. That’s something I’d wanted to do for quite a while, to make it easier for us to return to a spot when, for example, we want to pick up where we left off.

But mostly we cavorted in the woods like a couple of kids playing hooky. A great day.

Now a brief follow-up (sort of) to what I said yesterday about how Deb and I approach WuFlu. This particular line of thought was prompted by a conversation with a friend, as we discussed the effect of ideology on folks’ reaction to the “pandemic.”

He said that he advises people to “leave politics out of it and turn off the media.” The implication, of course, is that too many Americans are being persuaded by politicians, pundits and other voices to oppose (or support, for that matter) mandates and restrictions.

I don’t see it that way.

I’m pretty sure that true Americans were in full possession of their values before WuFlu came along. Long-held principles are being tested by a totalitarian State’s mishandling of the “pandemic” but they weren’t created by it, nor are most individuals’ actions being dictated by political ideology.

Put another way, politics is well downstream from principles. Ideology is a reflection of values, not a determinant.

The current Left-Right divide highlights a fundamental difference between those who embrace State intervention in private affairs and those who hold that the State should stay the hell out of citizens’ personal lives. People in the former group — reflecting their values — tend to vote Democrat (progressive); the latter are more inclined to vote Republican (conservative).

In correct order, then: principles, political ideology, party affiliation (or affinity).

Considering the role of the media I’m reminded of something that Rush Limbaugh occasionally would say: “I’m here to tell you what to think.” Typical of Rush’s one-liners, that was a facetious thumb-in-the-eye aimed at critics who judged conservatives to be incapable of independent critical thought.

Rush knew he was there not to tell his listeners what to think, but to give voice to what they already were thinking, to express skillfully and unapologetically what they believed. A great example is something he said on January 7th of this year:

“There’s a lot of irony out there, and there’s a lot of people calling for the end of violence. There’s a lot of conservatives on social media who say that any violence or aggression at all is unacceptable, regardless of the circumstances. I’m glad Sam Adams, Thomas Paine — the actual Tea Party guys, the men at Lexington and Concord — didn’t feel that way.”

I’m seldom at a loss for words myself, but that crystallized my perspective on what had happened at the US Capitol the day before. And that’s the role of the opinion media — not to dictate but to articulate and to validate.

So the next time you hear someone decry how “political” everything has become, you can let ’em know that the divide in American culture is very real. Politics and media only reflect what is.

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

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB