We’re in the middle of a hot stretch here, plowing through a string of 90s that’s predicted to ease into the 70s come Thursday. And it remains dry — we’ve seen no rain for a long while and there’s none in sight.
The woods behind our campsite are thick with squirrels, and lately the bushy-tailed little buggers are damned busy. ‘Tis the season, even in this part of The South.
I don’t know what season it is for armadillos, but they’re around, too. As a matter of fact, a tactical possum waddled by us while we were sitting by the fire a couple of nights ago.
And then there’s the bane of our outdoor life, ticks and chiggers. Deb and I have been doing a decent job of keeping the former at bay, finding only the occasional tick after a stroll through the woods, but the latter have developed quite the appetite for me — specifically (and inexplicably), they prefer my left leg.
It’s been three weeks since the last chigger attack and my lower extremities still look like they’ve taken three rounds of bird shot.
Judging from our experience last year, ticks will be with us throughout the winter months. I’m hoping that chiggers will give me a break after the first freeze.
I like structure. I’m a planner. I make lists. For decades those predispositions served me well in my profession and brought order to certain aspects of my personal life. Even as Deb and I traveled around the country last year, my penchant for organization helped keep things running.
Now that I’ve entered the autumn of life, I’m letting go of structure — plans, itineraries and expectations. Simply stepping forward into possibilities, I’ve found, often leads to joy.
Today was such a day.
It started with a trip to the gun shop where Deb bought her rifle, leaving with Black Rifle Coffee and some cleaning products. (Most of what we have is in storage). As we prepared to leave we faced a simple choice — right or left? North or south? Toward the campground or in the opposite direction?
We turned south on US Route 65. Naturally, that took us toward the rugged edge of the Springfield Plateau, the Boston Mountains and the Buffalo River. After crossing the river we decided to wind our way down to Tyler Bend, the place where we put-in for our float last October.
The river was low, the water crystal-clear, the scene peaceful. We had the place almost all to ourselves. We love the Buffalo.
On the return to Harrison we were approaching the intersection of happy hour and dinnertime. And it was Taco Tuesday. We swung into Salsa’s, our go-to-Mex joint, ordered our favorite margaritas and added a flight of four to sample.
Our server, a cordial fellow by the name of Luis, apparently took a liking to us. First he surprised us with complimentary queso and guacamole to go with our chips and salsa. Then he showed up with two tequila shots, on the house, and this was no “well” liquor — it was Maestro Dobel Diamante, easily the smoothest tequila I’ve ever had.
After our meal, along with the check Luis brought a bag with two more complimentary margaritas in to-go cups — seriously. We have no idea what we did to deserve such generosity.
We tipped him accordingly, of course. And when we got back to the campground we handed those take-out margaritas to our hosts.
A day without a plan turned into a day we’ll remember for a long time. There’s a lesson in there somewhere, I think.
One year ago today we stood on the banks of the Yellowstone River, alone but for a pair of bald eagles soaring overhead.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.