The greater Columbus area, where I lived for 20 years, is known for Ohio State football, the Columbus Zoo, Wendy’s and White Castle. Historically it’s been the “test market” for companies seeking to try out new products in the middle of Middle America.
Columbus, Ohio also is the nation’s most foul-mouthed major city.
Deb and I are, for better or worse, pretty representative of that distinction. We cuss. We swear. We aren’t bashful about it. Our fluent filth fit right in with Columbusites’ collective potty mouth.
I probably don’t have to tell you that it’s different here in northern Arkansas. It’s not that folks don’t cuss, nor is it shocking when they do. But in everyday conversation they don’t lead with it. Unreserved swearing, the most common dialect where we lived before, raises eyebrows in Ozarkansas.
The Rules aren’t written down, but they’re there nonetheless. No one teaches them, either — newcomers get to figure it out on their own.
It helps that Deb and I aren’t stupid. More important, we practice simple respect. We knew from the start that we were stepping into a different culture with different customs. That’s a big reason why we’re here.
This is a polite place. It’s mannerly. Language reflects that.
We’ve witnessed what happens when, for example, a tourist angrily rains down profanity on a store clerk. Such a scene hushes every local within earshot. All eyes turn to the offender and a simple message is delivered, clearly and occasionally out loud.
“Y’all ain’t from ’round here. That ain’t how we behave.”
It feels like a long way from Columbus, that’s for sure. Fine with us.
A harmless man is not a good man.Dr. Jordan B. Peterson
A good man is a very, very dangerous man who has that under voluntary control.
“You can’t reason with evil, son. Evil wants what it wants, and it won’t stop until it’s won or you kill it. To kill it means to be meaner than evil.John Dutton
That’s gonna be your last lesson, son, to learn to be meaner than evil and still love your family and enjoy a sunrise.”
“What a great day,” Deb said as we chased the setting sun toward Harrison. She said it more than once, as if speaking the words preserved the moment. I had to agree with her — over the course of five hours we saw our homesite transformed in ways we couldn’t’ve imagined.
When we arrived we were greeted by the new layer of rock on the driveway, and we drove the Silverado right up to where our front door will be. Our contractor’s crew of two, after reviewing with us what we wanted and where, got started with the excavator and skid-steer. We left them to their work and continued on to Deb’s cousin’s garage.
Before long we were called back to the homesite. The guy running the excavator had uncovered major ledge where a couple of concrete piers would be poured. Deb and I had a long conversation with him about what that meant for the way the foundation would have to be built — essentially, it would put the floor at the front of the house as much as 12 feet above the driveway.
We decided that’d be ok. About that time Deb suggested that there was no reason that the front door had to be an outside entry. With three other exterior doors on the house, we could use the front door simply as inside-out access to the porch.
It was a brilliant solution. Work continued with that in mind.
Discussions like that happened throughout the day. Together we worked through obstacles and made adjustments. Deb’s cousin gets credit for proposing that the house be moved four feet down the slope, which took the back wall off the ledge and lowered the front about two feet.
“You can’t fight The Mountain,” he said later. He’s right, of course. We can take only what The Mountain is willing to give us.
When we left late this afternoon, the crew was still hard at it. They filled and prepared the site for initial foundation work, built and laid a clay base for a parking pad at each end of the house, and cleared a spot where the shed will go.
The difference, even though we rolled out before it was done, was stunning. And that elevated front porch of ours is gonna have one helluva view.
The day’s last act was filling the Silverado with gas at Harps in Bellefonte. As if to put a cap on our Friday, the price of a gallon of 87 octane was lower than we’d paid since January.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.
One year ago today, dirt first moved on The Mountain. What a difference a year makes.