It occurred to me recently that I’ve lived virtually my entire American Life on Eastern Time. Born and raised in Ohio, college in Pennsylvania and a career in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts before returning to Ohio — it’s all unfolded at GMT -5 (or GMT -4 during the annual self-deception known as “daylight saving”).
Now I live permanently in the Central Time zone. I love Central Time, so much so that while we were traveling last week I didn’t even change my mechanical analog watch.
Here in Arkansas, an hour separates us from East Coast elites who presume that the rest of us march to their cadence. We’re also untethered from Left Coast weirdness by two hours.
The most obvious gauge, I suppose, is the national TV schedule. On Fox News, for example, The Five is at four, Tucker comes on here at 7pm (not 8pm like it does in Ohio), and even if I stay up to watch Gutfeld! I can still be in bed by 11pm. Being sixty minutes “behind” actually makes us sixty minutes early.
Maybe that makes sense to you. Maybe it doesn’t.
Sure, us Central Timers have to pay close attention to the operating hours of customer-service phone lines, but that’s a small price to pay for cultural distance and, in no small way, independence.
In a future post, perhaps, I’ll talk about how being situated where we are in this time zone brings us the sunrise almost half-hour earlier than we saw it in central Ohio.
Just how tired are we? Yesterday Deb and I didn’t leave the campsite — we kicked back, grabbed an afternoon nap and generally recharged. We turned out the lights around 10:30pm and vowed to sleep ’til we woke up.
When we did, it was 9:15am this morning. (Central Time, of course.) Scout and Dipstick didn’t even try to wake us. That’s unheard of.
Dinner last night was take-out (delivery). Carolyn’s RazorBack Ribs in Yellville, one of our favorite eateries, used to have a second location here in Harrison, but last year it was taken over by Hutch’s Hot Chicken. The tiny mom-and-pop restaurant, which specializes in “Nashville-style” chicken and catfish, has been getting rave reviews. We decided to give it a try.
Our chicken sandwiches arrived in build-it-yourself form — the crispy-fried breast was wrapped individually, as were the fixins (Swiss cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, onion and homemade pickles). A toasted bun sat on top.
Deb got fries, I had a side of slaw, and we shared an order of “Hutch Puppies.”
This was an excellent meal — everything was hot, seasoned just right, perfect. We may have a new favorite in town.
It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve reveled in the fresh air and peace of The Ozarks, at least intentionally. A cold snap, a full plate and a 1,600-mile trip to Ohio conspired to distract me, and this morning I committed to taking full advantage of a brilliant autumn day at the campsite.
Yeah, we’re still in recovery mode.
I got outside. I re-set our outdoor living space, re-stocked the dogs’ food, cleaned and packed away the dog hammock from the truck, dumped Ernie’s waste-water tanks and assembled a kit for The Mountain that includes (people) hammocks, a nylon fly, lightweight sleeping bags and related supplies.
We got started on laundry, unpacked our duffels from the trip and stowed what we could.
And for the second day in a row we watched a few episodes of “The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch.” We find the series compelling, the phenomena it explores intriguing. It reminds us that there’s much we don’t understand.
It also prompts us to consider the mystery of why we’re here in The Ozarks. No, we’re not seeing UAPs, UFOs or aliens, but all the same our presence in this place defies attempts to unravel it logically.
We’re not the only ones, either, who are here for reasons we can’t fully explain. We know that.
Most confounding to us is The Mountain itself. Not only are we drawn to the place, both Deb and I are affected physically when we’re there, every time we’re there. In certain places — “The Amphitheater,” for example, and the summit — the effects are more pronounced.
It’s almost as if we didn’t choose The Mountain. The Mountain chose us.
Ok, so maybe that’s a little too spiritual or sketchy for you. If so, I cordially invite you to kiss my ass.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.