The dogs let me sleep late today. It was just after 6am when I rolled out of bed, leaving Deb to sleep, and took Scout and Dipstick on their morning business trip. After feeding the pups I poured a cup of coffee and settled in front of my computer at the dinette. About an hour later I turned the TV on.
Timing, as they say, is everything — I was just in time to catch a Fox & Friends conversation with Aaron Lewis. The subject was his new album, “Frayed at Both Ends,” and how it came to be.
The interview ended with a video, a live performance from the album’s release concert last Wednesday at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Joining Lewis for “Everybody Talks to God” was lead guitarist Chuck Ward, whom Deb and I have had the pleasure of meeting a couple of times. He’s also part of the extended Squeek’s Family.
It served as the perfect start to my Monday.
Later this morning, as I guided Mercy along the road up The Mountain, I sprung a surprise on Deb. Instead of rolling right by the area cleared by the backhoe in early December, I dropped the transmission into first gear, turned the wheel to the left and bounced up the grade.
She laughed out loud.
It was the first time we’d driven the Jeep onto the site. I can’t really explain why it was so cool to do that today, but it was.
At the cabin afterward, we loaded several five-gallon cans into Deb’s cousin’s truck. He drove us into Flippin to get gas for our Ranger and his generator, along with diesel for his tractor. When we returned to The Mountain we showed him what we’re up to on the cleared site.
From there, Deb and I left in the Ranger with no particular destination in mind.
We ended up at the summit, as we often do. I walked down toward the campsite we’d cleared, mostly just wandering, absorbing the quiet of the place. After a while I looked around to see where Deb was.
She was leaning against an oak tree not far from where we’d parked, looking up at the treetops, a Mona Lisa smile on her face. In the 16 years we’ve been together, I’ve never seen her so clearly at peace.
We sat down together on a moss-covered chunk of granite and listened to the wind.
I decided that I wanted to walk in the direction of the highest point, about 75 yards away, before we headed back down The Mountain. I wasn’t looking for anything specific, but I’ve learned over the years that a place like this will reveal itself to me if I take the time to explore it.
Deb followed me up the gradual slope. We lingered at the top a few minutes. Looking down the other side I noticed a dark, dense grove of red cedars. I pointed it out to Deb before making my way closer.
What I discovered took my breath away.
Within the thick grove the air was fragrant and considerably cooler. I was surrounded by cedars bigger than anything else I’d yet seen on The Mountain — tall, healthy, thriving, magnificent. Best I can tell, many of them are over 100 years old, some perhaps twice that age.
This stand of trees — which we truly haven’t begun to explore — had a profound effect on me today. Beyond that, words fail me. I’ll have to leave it there.
We have weather coming in. After springlike conditions today (70°F) and tomorrow (60°F), we’re under a “winter storm watch” for Wednesday and Thursday. There are predictions of rain, freezing rain, sleet or snow — most likely all of the above in some combination.
We can handle the overnight lows (three in the teens and one in the single digits). Only on Thursday will the daytime high be below freezing. We’ve proven that we can handle snow. The forecast of accumulating ice, however, is concerning.
This afternoon’s gas-and-diesel run was part of prepping for the weather. So was Deb’s cousin’s attention to his generator the last couple of days. He was kind enough to make room in his garage for our Ranger, sparing it potential damage from ice and falling limbs.
Before leaving today, we enjoyed what we expect will be our last round of porch sittin’ and beer drinkin’ for a while. Now we’re ready. Bring it.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.