One of the older black walnut trees behind our campsite is committed to autumn, its leaves bright gold and beginning to flutter to the ground. There’s a sound that goes with the falling, the softest of rustling as they come down.

I heard another sound this morning, shortly before 8am, a faint and random tap-tap-tap-tap on the awning — raindrops. It lasted only a few minutes and then was gone.

Yesterday’s disappointing news, confirming that we likely won’t be living on The Mountain ’til spring, fouls my attitude and alters my perspective. I’m forced to confront the reality that this place — the campground, the slice-of-pie patch of yard, the bus, the din of civilization — is where I am and will be for a while. Sittin’ on my own front porch and watching the sun’s rays paint a peaceful valley is a country pleasure that’ll have to wait.

The days go by faster as I age, with less certainty about how many days are still to come. I know I’ve seen more sunrises than I have yet to see. The only imperative in my life now is to be on that Mountain, with enough of my days left to build and create and enjoy and embrace peace.

And that’s been postponed. Old men don’t do well with postponement.

The journey that Deb and I undertook last year was motivated by the knowledge that “tomorrow isn’t promised.” Next spring is many tomorrows away. At the risk of sounding fatalistic, I hope I’m here to welcome it on The Mountain.

As we approach the winter months, I expect we’ll do more of what we did on the property last year. Employing both the Ranger and our walking sticks we’ll explore the wooded slopes. Using tools and gloved hands we’ll make the place our own.

Deb wants to begin cleaning out the area around “The Amphitheater,” just behind where the house will stand. We’ll definitely do that — build a navigable walking path (with steps), remove downed trees and litter, limb-up cedars we leave standing. I imagine we’ll create a spot for a fire ring, perhaps rustic seating around it.

I’d like to continue what we started up on the “Dancing Tree” site, expanding it beyond the spot we’ve already cleared. We’ll do a simple fire ring there, too, as well as a wood rack. Maybe rounds or benches to sit on.

The trail we opened up for the Ranger last winter is adequate but still not ideal. Overhanging limbs were pulled lower by heavy snow. Brush intruded over the spring and summer months. Originally we cut back as little as possible, only to find ourselves now banging and catching stuff we should’ve removed in the first place.

And so we’ll widen the path by two or three feet where we can. We’ll also think about how we can modify a couple of rocky transitions that occasionally thump our buggy’s undercarriage.

There are a couple of new trails we’d like to cut, both of which will require a lot of work. The first is what I’ve referred to as an “equestrian path” — a 250-yard right-of-way along the property’s eastern boundary that we’ve walked a number of times.

It’s pretty well defined, actually. As I recall, there are no large or insurmountable obstacles. The hardest part, it looks like, will be creating easy (but not inviting) access from the road for the Ranger.

The other trail we’ll have to build from scratch, not unlike siting the house. The concept is to clear a buggy path connecting the homesite directly to the existing trail to the summit (without driving on the road). That’ll mean first finding a route from one to the other, then removing what’s in the way.

We believe it’s possible, if not necessarily simple. Once last year we hacked our way through, using loppers and a machete, learning that most of the vegetation is small and would be fairly easy to clear. Several outcrops of ledge, however, could complicate the project.

My sense is that the second new trail should wait. Construction of the driveway, I think, will dictate where the path will begin, and that’s a ways off yet.

These are things I think about.

I thought I’d share an animated gif of that bobcat’s brief appearance on our trailcam Sunday. It still makes me smile.

You already know that one reason we’re glad to be residents of Arkansas is that we get to vote for Sarah Huckabee Sanders for our governor. Thinking about that today, I remembered writing about her father, himself a former governor, when he was campaigning for the GOP presidential nomination.

On my previous weblog (retired ten years ago), I shared what Mike Huckabee had to say about our birthright to keep and bear arms:

“The Second Amendment is about freedom. It’s about protecting ourselves, our families, our property, and ultimately, if necessary — I know this sounds pretty bold — but from our own government, when they get out of control. That’s what it’s all about.”

“…I wouldn’t appoint an attorney general, as president, who didn’t understand what the Second Amendment did — and it gives the rights to individuals, not to geographical locations, not to police entities. It gives that as a fundamental right, just in the same way — if we value the First Amendment, then we have to value the Second. And I don’t understand why more people, particularly in the media, who embrace, love, and herald the First Amendment, don’t realize that, once you start chipping away at any of them, you chip away at all of them.”

“[The government confiscating firearms from law-abiding citizens] is an ultimate violation of my basic constitutional right to protect myself.

“And unless I’m a criminal, they have no right to confiscate anything from me, especially — see, they’re not confiscating my firearm. Here’s what we’ve got to understand: They’re confiscating my constitutional rights. And once they take that one away, then they can take away every other right — the right of a fair trial, the right of speech, the right of assembly, the right of worship. It doesn’t stop.”

He was right in 2008 and he’s right today. And I’m quite confident that his daughter, our next governor, hews to principle with equal ferocity.

Tonight’s dinner — chorizo street tacos at Salsa’s in Harrison.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB