This marks the seventeenth Valentine’s Day that Deb and I have celebrated together. Each year — indeed, every single day — I’m reminded that I’m the luckiest man on the planet. I’m sharing this American Life with the woman of my dreams.
The last 12 months have, in all ways, shown me how truly fortunate I am.
Last night we got word that anxiously awaited work on The Mountain, postponed Friday, would happen today. Long story short, it didn’t — this time balky equipment foiled the plan. It’s been pushed back ’til tomorrow.
We were there anyway and reveled in an absolutely magnificent day. First we assembled the bench we’d bought, secured it in the bed of the Ranger and hauled it to the summit. We sat there on that bench a good long while, pretty damned pleased with ourselves, before walking down the southern slope in search of The Big Mystery Pit.
It didn’t take us long to find it.
This clearly was an exploratory mining dig — a trench into the side of the grade, 50 feet long and about six feet deep. Tailings from the excavation had been deposited out past the downhill end, creating a sort of artificial outcrop.
Judging by the size of the trees growing inside the trench and on the debris pile, the last digging happened there over a century ago.
We went back to The Mystery Pit we’d discovered the other day and, comparing it to the mining trench, we reconsidered our previous guess that it was relatively recent. We now suspect it was part of the same work that created the trench.
Returning to the bench, we sat and plotted our next foray. I’d dropped a GPS waypoint on another mystery divot revealed by hillshade, and the spot was just 70 yards east of our position. We wanted to see what was there.
I led the way through the brush and trees, Deb tagging along a few dozen feet behind. As I approached the coordinates I slowed my pace — and then I stopped, stunned at the sight before me.
We’d found a genuine sinkhole, we believe, at least eight feet deep and big enough to swallow a pickup truck. The ledge at some point had sheared and fallen away, exposing a soft limestone face — kind of a small bluff, damp where water seeped from a crack.
Whether it was caused by seismic activity or subterranean erosion, we can’t say. We do know that it’s one of the most intriguing features we’ve found on The Mountain.
As we rolled Mercy back into Harrison late this afternoon, we discussed our dinner options. We were grimy from woodswalking, and though someplace like DeVito’s might’ve been a more romantic choice, we didn’t feel fit for linen-tablecloth dining.
So the Neighborhood Diner it was. We both ordered the “Frito Pie Supreme” — perfect, and perfectly delicious.
Tomorrow morning we’ll be up early (again) and headed for The Mountain (again) to meet that young tradesman (again). Third time’s a charm.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.