Today, weather-wise, will be an average December day in Harrison, Arkansas — a high of 48°F, followed by an overnight low of 31°F. Rarely in the winter does the temperature dip into the teens, and the area sees an average of just eight inches of snow a year.
Last year departed from the norms, and we were here to witness it. We saw 5°F twice, as I recall. Two storms brought us 10 to 12 inches of snow and two more dropped between four and six inches.
We’ve been fortunate lately. The motorhome’s heat pumps have been pushed to their limits. Last night we were forced to run the furnaces for only the second time this season. We’ve seen accumulating snow just once, and it didn’t stick around long.
Our good fortune, it would appear, is about to leave us.
Beginning on Thursday, temperatures will dive off a cliff. Steady winds up to 30mph are predicted, with gusts up to 40mph. It’ll snow a little, too, and Friday we’ll wake up to a morning low of -6°F. The bitter cold will stay with us until Sunday. It’ll be the coldest snap we’ve dealt with while living in the bus.
I’m pretty sure we’re up to the challenge. All systems look good.
By Tuesday, we’ll be back to running the heat pumps ’round-the-clock — highs in the mid-40s and 50s, lows in the 30s. That’s the way winter goes here in northern Arkansas.
I once (maybe twice) described the weather here as “temperate.” That was wrong of me — it’s tolerable.
Deb captured an image when we were at the homesite the other day, a seemingly ordinary photo that I feel compelled to share. That’s it, below — trees, most of them red cedars, and rocks. Lots and lots of rocks.
Direct your attention, please, to the bottom of the frame. Within a foot or two, that’s where the east wall of our house will be. See that rock in the middle of the lower edge? That’s our back door.
Imagine, as we often do, walking out of a house and into that scene. Deb and I have been dreaming about such a thing since shortly after we met.
We have work to do on this space, of course — we intend to clean it up without clearing it out. Small trees and scrub will be removed. (Wherever we can we’ll cut them close to the ground, leaving root systems to help hold what soil there is.) Larger trees will get limbed-up to admit more sunlight, eliminating head-knockers and widow-makers. We’ll move loose rocks where we want to create a walkway, steps and an open area for benches, which I expect we’ll craft from a couple of suitable cedars removed to make way for the house.
There will be a fire pit.
Maybe the only material we’ll have to bring to the site is pea gravel (or equivalent) to fill-in around the steps, for the path and to create a sparks-and-embers ring around the fire pit.
We have the tools and we have the time. Most important, we have the vision.
This is Deb’s favorite spot on The Mountain, a place she long ago named “The Amphitheater.” She feels great peace there, and I can testify that it’s special. As much as our entire home will be a retreat, we’ll work together to make this a sanctuary within that retreat — only a few steps from our back door.
As our Sunday wound down, we began addressing tasks that have to be done and systems that’ll need to be in good shape before the upcoming Deep Freeze. It’s a familiar ritual, regardless of what prompts it.
Our propane tank, though the gauge has been acting wonky lately, appears to be at two-thirds full. I checked the house batteries and topped-off the electrolyte with distilled water. The bay heater and the heated fresh-water hose are doing what they should.
Our small space heater is staged in the living area. We brought a few supplies out of the basement and in from the Jeep, reducing the need to fetch them under less-than-ideal conditions.
Tomorrow or Tuesday we’ll test the onboard generator, running it under load awhile. I think I’ll grab a few towels and stuff them into the water and sewer pass-throughs. Just before the mercury drops, probably Thursday morning, we’ll dump the tanks.
It’ll be fun, they said….
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.
Fat ol’ trash panda.