Those are the words with which Deb’s cousin greeted us when we got out of the truck on The Mountain this morning. It was striking validation of how we already felt about being back in Ozarkansas, expressed by someone who knows it better than anyone but us.
Every moment of our hour-long trip to The Mountain was like that — the friendly lady at the liquor store in Pyatt, the woman behind the Yellville Post Office counter remembering us, the deli worker at Harps who insisted that Deb call her personally to make sure there was plenty of chicken salad the next time we stopped by. People we passed in doorways and parking lots smiled and said hello. We encountered no strangers.
The overwhelming feeling was that we’d made it — we’re back where we belong, and this time we’re here to stay.
Most of our time on The Mountain we spent in the cool of Deb’s cousin’s garage, sanctuary from the insane (106°F) heat outside. A neighbor stopped by, bringing her dogs and fresh peaches. We did make a quick trip up to the summit in the Ranger, pausing at the home site on our return.
The drive back to the campground, punctuated by a stop for gas ($3.799) and dinner, was quietly joyful. It’s all so familiar now, so very right.
We’ll do it again tomorrow.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.