If it’s our backwoods way of livin’ you’re concerned with,Josh Thompson
you can leave us alone.
Our yesterday began earlier than usual and ended later than expected. For the third straight day we were on The Mountain before 9am. Not long afterward a diesel pickup pulling a flatbed trailer rumbled up the road and work resumed on the shed.
All of us — Deb and I, her cousin and the construction crew — knew we were racing the weather. A cold front was barreling toward the area, beginning with sustained high winds from the south. We battled serious gusts ourselves during the eastbound drive yesterday morning, but the build site on The Mountain was almost completely sheltered by a tall neighboring ridge.
We had a narrow window to get the job done. If the work didn’t go quickly, it’d have to run long.
The father-and-son team kept at it throughout the day. Deb and I made a lunch run, bringing food back for all. Mid-afternoon we drove up to the summit, just to get away for a bit, and we strolled the woods. I picked a handful of deep-blue berries from a red cedar and chewed on a couple. Pretty tasty.
Later I took the cedar sapling I’d harvested from where it’s been drying in the garage and stripped off more of the bark. It’ll be a while before it’s ready, but I think it’ll make a dandy walking stick.
Sunset turned to dusk and darkness fell on The Mountain. It began to rain. The shed still had a long way to go.
Deb’s cousin started his tractor, backed it up to where the crew was working and switched on a work light. I pulled the Jeep around to the other side and directed its LEDs at the shed.
The roof went on. The ramp got built. The deed was done and, with our thanks, father and son rolled away into the gloom.
Deb’s cousin steered his Kubota over to a small pile of gravel, scooped up a bucketful and deposited it at the front of the ramp. I raked it into place.
Then came the moment we’d been waiting for — I pulled the Ranger around the driveway, gunned it up the ramp and parked it inside our new shed.
The day wasn’t over quite yet, however. We still had to drive back to the campground, which took a bit longer on twisting wet roads at night.
But we made it.
So much about yesterday was satisfying, definitely validating. It was a big ol’ slice of country living, in many ways our best day yet.
Today the weather totally sucks — high winds, pouring rain and temps that’ll fall into the mid-teens by tomorrow morning. We’re content chilling in the bus and re-charging our personal batteries.
Almost every time I sit down to write, I have a list of things I want to talk about that day. Invariably there are passing encounters and short conversations and random thoughts that simply aren’t substantial enough to make it to the blog.
Today I’m going to drop a few of those subjects, briefly, beginning with a sad anniversary.
It was a year ago today that we lost Rush Limbaugh. We knew it was coming, and yet it felt so sudden, so damned unfair. When I heard the news I posted this:
“Rush Limbaugh did more good for America than anyone in my lifetime, regardless of office or status. He was a giant, reaching millions, standing in the gap and taking the salvos, inspiring countless others to do the same. His unapologetic patriotism, his principled stands, his perseverance and his (mostly private) generosity shame his critics. America is better because of Rush Limbaugh, and so am I.“
Not a day goes by that I don’t recall Rush, benefit from his example and feel the weight of his absence.
Canadians are learning that William Pitt, in 1783, was right:
“Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.”
There may be no greater danger to Liberty than so-called “emergency powers.” Americans know that (and some of us have taken the lessons). Canada’s piss-ant prime minister is an irredeemable tyrant, and we’re about to find out if our neighbors to the north are willing to live as the kind of slaves he demands they be.
A handful of my high-school classmates and I have a “group text” going, passing along news of births and deaths, sharing photos of hunting trips and exchanging good-natured jabs. I’ve known all of these guys for 55 years, a few of them longer than that.
While I was up on The Mountain yesterday my phone rang — it was one of the guys, a childhood friend and neighbor. Seeing his name pop up surprised me, since we don’t communicate that way.
He was as surprised as I was. Turns out he’d misdialed. He meant to call someone else.
After laughing about that we had a great conversation, catching up and such. There’s a sweetness to childhood relationships that can’t be matched.
The Mountain is a trove of fossils. Sometimes cows escape and wander the county road.
We like the pace of life here. It’s not lazy or unproductive, not Hawai’i or Key West, but it is slower in a southern sort of way.
Having lived in soul-grinding cities and navigated the relentless corporate world — both of which can kiss my ass, by the way — I believe that The Ozarks is the most real place I’ve ever been.
We’ve been known to resort to “fast food,” usually fetched from drive-thru windows, and we’ve come to expect a certain attitude from folks who work those lanes — surly, unenthusiastic, entitled, slow and incompetent.
Back in Ohio, the lone exception was Chick-fil-A — friendly, accommodating, fast and always accurate. Sometimes we’d go there just to remind ourselves that not every drive-thru is staffed by people who can’t be bothered.
Here in northern Arkansas, everyplace is like a freakin’ Chick-fil-A. And I’m not kidding about that.
“Eye contact and a smile,” Deb said of the window attendant as she passed our Taco Bell food to me Tuesday evening. When we ordered five individually bagged meals at the McDonald’s in Gassville yesterday, we got the best service ever at a fast-food joint. I watched every single cashier show the same hospitality to other customers.
It’s been that way everywhere, every time. I’m tellin’ you, it’s different here.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.