We didn’t have high expectations for today, other than to break the skein of days away from The Mountain. The weather was perfect, decidedly un-winterlike for December, promising to make whatever we did worth the effort.
First we stopped in Yellville and ran a couple of errands on Old Main Street — picking up a form at county human services and having a brief meeting at the local title office. Naturally we were treated well at both places. Everyone was friendly, easygoing, accommodating and, most important, competent.
The title office was decked out for Christmas — tree, garland, wreath, décor and all. Glancing at the magazine rack in the waiting area I spied several copies of Hillsdale College’s Imprimis (Latin, “in the first place”), one of my favorite publications. I remarked about that to the agent we met with.
He smiled. “Yeah, we’re of the same persuasion.”
After another brief stop at our insurance agent’s office we drove up to The Mountain via the Flippin route. We were thrilled to see that recent rains had brought Crooked Creek to the top of its banks. Even the Shawnee Town Branch in Yellville, almost always nearly dry, was bright and flowing strong.
We pulled the Silverado up onto our driveway (we can do that now) and parked near the south end of the homesite. The exposed section of clay was sticky, but overall the surface was solid and well-drained.
On the west (downhill) side of the driveway we saw that our backhoe guy had been there — and he’d definitely been busy. A large, well-defined hole sat waiting for a septic tank, which we expect to arrive on Tuesday.
We drove on to Deb’s cousin’s garage, sat around the driveway and talked awhile. Back in Yellville on our way out, we dropped by Laura’s for what we’ve decided is the best real Mexican food around.
I had machaca con huevos — two scrambled eggs, shredded beef, onions, tomatoes, bell pepper and salsa, rice and beans, and tortillas — and it was amazing. When Deb and I got back to the truck we were amused to see that two of our fellow patrons had parked their horse trailers (with restless horses) on the side of the highway in front of us.
It reminded us where we are.
Yet another reminder presented itself along US 62 just west of Yellville. We rolled up on the scene of a horrible wreck — a large red SUV was on its side off the north side of the road, a couple of hundred feet back from the highway against a stand of trees. From the looks of the damage it somehow went airborne and landed on its nose before coming to rest.
Clearly the frightening incident had just happened. Emergency vehicles weren’t yet on-scene.
What struck me was that a dozen trucks and cars had pulled off onto the shoulder, on both sides of the road. But they weren’t passive onlookers — all of those people were over near the crashed vehicle, many of them rendering aid as we passed.
No one stood back and gawked. In that moment I thought of something that Fred Rogers once said:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers.’ You will always find people who are helping.”
I’ve seen “Good Samaritans” before — “the helpers,” if you will. But a dozen? And right away? That was a first for me.
Out here, responders can be a long ways off. Hospitals are even farther away. Waiting for help can be the difference between life and death.
Everyone knows that.
What we saw was heart-wrenching, but it also was heartening. We saw the best of us. We saw our neighbors.
We saw the helpers.
Deb and I talked about that the rest of the way back to Harrison.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.
Almost a week after “modern gun” deer season ended on The Mountain, whitetail bucks returned to our trailcams — a spike and a four-point together on Mountain One, a bigger boy up on Mountain Two.