There’s no ice fishing in Arkansas

Late last week Deb shared a social-media post from a local fishing resort, Gaston’s up in Lakeview, situated on the White River just downstream from Bull Shoals Lake. It depicted a young woman who’d just returned from a day on the river. She’d landed 20 brown trout.

One catch was over 24 inches long.

In that neck of the woods, trout fishing is a thing, a big thing. I remember our first trip into the area and passing a water tower proclaiming Cotter, Arkansas, “Trout Capital USA.” That’s no idle boast. Below the COE dams, the White is stocked with Rainbow, Brook, Cutthroat, Lake, Brown and Tiger.

These are some of the most productive angling waters anywhere in the world. It’s a year-round deal, too — no matter the weather, folks are on the river all winter long. The hardy often are rewarded with fish like the 34-inch stud pictured below, landed last week. (And nobody had to bore a hole in the ice.)

Gaston’s and its skilled guides are an 18-mile drive from The Mountain. The closest boat ramp on the mighty White, on the Marion County side across from Cotter, is less than eight miles away.

The White River, along with Bull Shoals, Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River, surround us with opportunities. For a while now we’ve had canoeing and kayaking on our wish list.

Don’t be surprised, however, if someday you open this blog and read about a day of trout fishing.

Looking back on yesterday’s post, I didn’t quite “mail it in.” I didn’t give you much of an account of our day, either, but I don’t feel too terribly guilty about posting little more than a gallery. I was tired.

It was a brief trip with a simple goal. We completed the mission. Of course, that’s not all that happened yesterday.

Notably, the Jeep made its first run to The Mountain since before last Thanksgiving. Deb did the driving on this bright, clear Sunday, and she enjoyed every minute of it.

We dropped by Deb’s cousin’s place when we arrived, prior to visiting the homesite. We failed to corral Smudge quickly enough, though, and she rolled in a pile of (cold) ashes in the driveway. She made a mess of herself but, given her thick “blue” coat, the soot blended right in.

Following a heavy rain, one of our neighbors likes to pick around the ground at the end of our road, looking for artifacts where she suspects that Indians once knapped native chert to form arrowheads and other tools. Yesterday we found a gift from her — on the ramp of our shed she’d left us over a dozen “flakes” from a recent dig.

The Mountain is getting greener by the day. Budding trees will start putting out leaves soon.

And then there’s the reason we made the trip — that is, to take a look at what Saturday’s excavation had accomplished. The simplest description of what we saw is “a big, muddy hole in the ground.” In many ways, the homesite seemed less defined than ever, at least since a backhoe first began clearing the property 15 months ago — manifest chaos, piles of rocks, a mound of ashes.

Even the driveway base, which had been a bright swath of clean rock (and a beacon for our optimism), was dimmed and displaced by the work.

The sight could’ve discouraged us, I suppose, but it didn’t. We knew what we were looking at.

Standing in the middle of that big, muddy hole yesterday afternoon, essentially in the center of the crawl space, I noticed that my feet were planted at-grade with the driveway. I turned around and saw that the line marking the rear wall of the foundation was over two feet above my head. To my right, the location of the south wall was clearly visible.

That’s progress.

A couple of months ago I had something to say about advancing, how Deb and I approach everything from projects to travel. I also celebrated patience. Still, there’s more to it than that.

A common roadblock to advancement, in my experience, is to make a decision and then second-guess it over and over. It’s one thing to be aware of what’s working and what’s not, adjusting when adjustments are called for. It’s entirely another to drown a choice in wave after wave of uncertainty.

Using each disappointment and every hiccup as an occasion for reconsidering the original decision is neither rational nor productive. All it does is sow doubt.

We took our first step toward building a homestead on The Mountain way back on November 12th, 2021. Dirt first moved on December 3rd. We returned from Ohio last July, ready for work to resume, but the drought ended, the rains came and nothing more happened until mid-August.

Over a year ago we changed our minds about the type of structure we wanted, from a portable building to a stick-built house. For that build we chose a slab foundation, but The Mountain had other plans, dictating first piers (we thought) and then a crawl space. It took three tries to deliver building materials.

And so on.

Every delay opened the door for doubt to walk in. Deb and I shut that door long ago and locked it — we have no doubts. Sure, we’re anxious to be living in our humble house on The Mountain, but at this point we’re comfortable with our decisions.

It’ll take as long as it takes. Honestly, we’re enjoying the bumpy ride.

Every now and then I pull up that image I assembled of what will be the view from our kitchen window. It always makes me smile, knowing that we’ll enjoy the real thing soon.

No doubt about it.

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

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB